If you live in the EU, a country in the EEA or in Switzerland, is there a time when you need to apply for an EHIC? Do you, in fact, need an EHIC at all, or can you easily live without one? For that matter, what is an EHIC and does everyone in the EU, EEA and Switzerland have one?
What is an EHIC? — EHIC, previously known as the e111 card, stands for the European Health Insurance Card. It is a plastic credit card-sized card that everyone in the EU, EEA or Switzerland generally carries with them if they leave their country of residence.
The card allows them to access government-run medical care in any country in the EU, EEA or in Switzerland. This medical care is free, just as it would be in their country of residence.
Do you need an EHIC? — If you never leave your country of residence, chances are you do not need an EHIC. Not unless you think there may come a time when you leave or are forced to leave due to business or family concerns. This is because the EHIC is only needed outside your own country.
If, however, you think there is a possibility you may be traveling outside your country of residence at some point, then applying for an EHIC/e111 or e111 renewal is recommended. Especially as you can receive an EHIC in the mail just a couple of weeks after applying for one, and at no cost to you at all.
How is an application for an EHIC made? — Applying for the EHIC has been made incredibly simple. Particularly as it can all be done on the Internet in a matter of just a few minutes, and at zero cost to you.
All you need to do to submit your EHIC application is to find the website pertaining to your country of residence, and then complete the short application form you will find there. The entire process is easy to do, and your application can be submitted to the EHIC authorities minutes after you arrive on the site. From then on, there is nothing you have to do, except to wait for your card to arrive in the mail.
Things you need to know about the EHIC — There are several things an EHIC does not cover when you are outside your own country. These include any medical care at a private health facility. They also include the cost of a mountain rescue should you go skiing and have an accident. Finally, the EHIC will not enable you to be flown back to your country of residence should you be severely injured or ill and not able to take your already-booked flight.
For the above reasons, anyone traveling overseas should always be sure they purchase supplemental travel insurance that will cover all of the things the EHIC does not. That way you will never find yourself stuck overseas with a high-cost situation your EHIC card will not cover, and no way of paying for it yourself.