Prescriptions abroad: expenses and reimbursements
When buying medicine on prescription abroad, you might have to pay the full cost up front, even if you don't at home. You can claim reimbursement from your health insurer when you get home, if the medicine is covered by your national health insurance.
Whether or not you have to pay for the prescription medicine abroad, depends on your healthcare cover and the rules of the EU country you're visiting.
Using the EHIC at the pharmacy
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to receive necessary treatment with the same rights to health care as people insured in the country you are staying in. If you have a prescription from the country you are in, you should present it together with the EHIC when you go to the pharmacy.
This means that you will pay the same rate at the pharmacy as someone who is insured in that country. In some EU countries this may mean that you won't pay anything, while in others you may be required to pay some or all of the cost of your prescription.
If you don't have an EHIC or you have a cross-border prescription
You will most likely have to pay the full cost of a product dispensed on prescription at the pharmacy if:
- you don't have an EHIC or have forgotten to take your EHIC abroad with you, or
- you have a prescription from another EU country (cross-border prescription)
Make sure you ask the pharmacy for a receipt. Depending on your health insurance cover, you should then request reimbursement from your insurer when you return to your home country.
You may have to pay for your prescription medicine
Federica has a prescription from her doctor in Italy for allergy medicine that she thinks she might need during her summer holiday in France. In Italy the medicine is dispensed free of charge.
During her holiday in France, Federica takes her Italian prescription to the pharmacy to get her allergy medicine. She is surprised when the pharmacist asks her to pay €25 for her medicine.
Federica should ask for reimbursement when she gets home.