There has been recent EU wide changes on health and social security that affect the cards used by travellers.
European citizens who are travelling within the European Economic Area, (ie the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland, for private or professional reasons are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which simplifies the procedure when receiving medical assistance during their stay in a member state.
The EHIC entitles the holder to the same treatment at the same cost as a national of that country. For example, if medical care is provided free of charge in the member state where treatment is required, the claimant will be entitled to free medical care on presentation of the card or an equivalent document. Presentation of the EHIC guarantees reimbursement of the medical costs on the spot, or soon after returning home.
In the event of treatment being required present the card at the earliest opportunity. The card is only valid for state provided services, not private hospitals or treatments.
The only personal information on the EHIC is the cardholder's surname and first name, personal identification number and date of birth. The European health insurance card does not contain medical data. The card contains the same information in all countries where it is issued. The duration of validity of the card varies from country to country.
The European Health Insurance Card replaces forms:
- E111 and E111B used by tourists
- E110 used by international road transporters
- E128 used by students and people working in a Member State other than their own
- E119 used by people registered as unemployed and seeking work in another Member State
The free card is not independent travel insurance and is not a substitute for full travel health insurance.
One change affects EU citizens receiving pensions from their home country. The responsibility of issuing the EHIC is no longer with a person's state of residence, but with the state where a person is paying to or benefiting from the Social Security System. This affects people receiving pensions from their EU home country rather than their country of residency. A resident of Spain, receiving pension in the UK, must now apply for the EHIC card in UK.