What is the European Health Insurance Card?
It is a free card that gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any of the EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland under the same conditions and at the same cost (free in some countries) as people insured in that country. The benefits covered include, for example, benefits provided in conjunction with chronic or existing illnesses as well as in conjunction with pregnancy and childbirth. The card should allow you to have medical care without paying much out of pocket or at least to be reimbursed just like you do at home. You’ll be treated and cared for like a local.
Cards are issued by your national health insurance provider. In France this is Ameli. Ask for a card for each family memeber over 16 via yourAmeli account – it’s just a few clicks. They are valid for 2 years, so keep an eye on the expiration date as you plan a trip.
Important – the European Health Insurance Card:
- 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 or lost/stolen property,
- does not cover your costs if you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment,
- 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.
- does not replace your Carte Vitale
But if you are a permanent resident of Europe visiting or residing temporarily in another European country (for study for example) with your EHIC you can ask for reimbursement of any unforeseeable necessary medical expenses, on presentation of the following documents :
- your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) ;
- your passport;
- « feuille de soins » (form given by doctor / nurse / dentist / hospital, etc. for forwarding to the Social Security), medical prescriptions and invoices relating to payments made during your care to the nearest caisse d’assurance maladie in the area where you are staying ;
- RIB or IBAN.
Please note: when you move your habitual residence to another country, you should register with the S1 form instead of using the EHIC to receive medical care in your new country of habitual residence.
There’s more information about healthcare in English on Ameli’s English pages, they also have English speaking telephone help.
PS: British holders of EHIC’s can use their current cards until the expiration date, but after that they’ll need to get the new UK GHIC. It will cover chronic or existing illnesses and routine maternity care as well as emergencies, but treatments such as dialysis or chemotherapy will have to be pre-arranged to ensure they are available at your destination. The GHIC will not be valid in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.