The European Health Insurance Card is an invaluable item you should always take with you on any visit to EEA countries and Switzerland. This card could very well prove to be something of a life saver, as it will mean you are entitled to free medical treatment if it becomes necessary due to an accident or illness while on your trip away.
Free medical care
If you do require medical treatment for an accident or illness that has occurred during your trip, you will be entitled to seek help from a local, state-run medical facility. This means you will be able to attend a local hospital or clinic that is used by local inhabitants of the country you are in and you can expect to be treated in exactly the same manner as the locals would be.
It is important to note that you will not be able to make use of the European Health Insurance Card in any private medical facilities. You would be expected to pay the full cost of treatment in this case and the card will not offer you any form of discount whatsoever.
Is the EHIC card equivalent to NHS treatment abroad?
As we citizens of the United Kingdom are lucky enough to enjoy complimentary medical treatment for most types of illnesses, we need to remember that the European Health Insurance Card will not provide us with exactly the same level of care and treatment when we are abroad. Indeed, each and every year, numerous British citizens make this very mistake and fail to realise the importance of having to take out a travel insurance policy in addition to travelling with the card. Inevitably, this can and will result in the traveller having to find potentially vast sums of money in order to settle the medical bill at the end of their stay.
Pre-existing and chronic conditions
If you suffer from any pre-existing or chronic medical conditions and these result in you requiring medical attention when you are away, it is reassuring to know that the European Health Insurance Card will still entitle you to receive emergency treatment. Provided you make the necessary arrangements with the local medical facility before you travel, the card will also entitle you to medical treatments such as the provision of oxygen and even kidney dialysis.
Routine maternity care
You will also be entitled to receive routine medical treatment for any issues that arise due to your pregnancy, but you would not be entitled if it could be proven that you travelled to the European country with the intention of giving birth there.
Ensure you purchase a full travel insurance policy
As the European Health Insurance Card will only tend to cover you for what could be considered as emergency medical treatment and a few other levels of treatment, it really is vitally important for all travellers to purchase a travel insurance policy that covers all types of medical illnesses.