Unplanned healthcare abroad
If you are insured in an EU member state, you have the right to access unplanned healthcare in another EU member state through the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
The EHIC is a free card that gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare in case of emergency, during a temporary stay in any of the 28 EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, under the same conditions as people insured in that country.
The EHIC also covers the treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care, provided the reason for your visit is notor .
Please note: when you move your residence to another EU country, you should register with the S1 form instead of using the EHIC to receive medical care in your new country of residence.
The EHIC is issued by your health insurance fund. If you don’t have an EHIC issued when needed, request a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC). You will have the same rights as the EHIC.
The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It does not cover any private healthcare or costs such as a return flight to your home country.
The EHIC does not cover your costs if you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment.
The EHIC does not guarantee free services. As each country’s healthcare system is different, services that cost nothing at home might not be free in another country.
You have access to healthcare professionals who are public/state or contracted with the national health insurance system.
You are entitled to health benefits provided by the national health insurance system of the state of treatment in similar cases as if you were insured in that state.
If you are chronically ill and need special treatment (eg chemotherapy, oxygen therapy, hemodialysis) during your temporary stay in an EU country, you are advised to have an earlier agreement/coordination with the health unit providing the treatment, to ensure that it is available during your stay using your EHIC.
You are advised to ask for the treatment you receive to be documented and also ask for itemized invoices in the event that you have to pay for the treatment and seek reimbursement later.
If you don’t have a valid European Health Insurance Card or you can’t use your card, for example because you are treated in a private hospital or because you need treatment that is not covered in the country of treatment but is, however, covered in your home country, you will be able to receive medically necessary treatment under Directive 2011/24/EU.
Key principles of Directive 2011/24/EU*:
- You are only entitled to treatment that is covered in your home country
- You initially pay all costs upfront
- Upon return home, you may file for reimbursement with your national health insurance
- The reimbursement tariffs of your home country will apply
Under the Directive you are entitled to assumption of costs at the same conditions and tariffs as though the treatment was provided in your home country.
Directive 2011/24/EU also applies to healthcare provided in a private hospital or by a private healthcare provider who is not contracted to the statutory health system.
Directive 2011/24/EU, however, does not apply for cross-border treatment received in Switzerland .