People who have found themselves making holiday accident claims might agree that a European Union-wide card known as the EHIC helped to ease their stress levels when they needed emergency care.
The EHIC – which stands for European Health Insurance Card – enables holders to receive free emergency care anywhere in the EU and in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland.
New figures show a steady rise in the number of people who hold the card, with 15 million more citizens carrying an EHIC in 2012 than in 2011.
Stress-free holiday accident claims
While many people will understandably feel some anxiety about the prospect of making personal injury claims abroad, the chance to access free care when it is needed will at least ease the burden to some extent.
The EHIC is issued for free from the national health insurance provider in the person’s home country and it confirms they are entitled to receive emergency treatment in the host country’s public healthcare system on the same terms and at the same cost as nationals of that country.
Laszlo Andor, European Commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion, said: “The European Health Insurance Card is a real success, with two out of five Europeans now holding a card that could save them time and money if they fall ill or get injured during a trip abroad.”
He said the card is used without any problems in the majority of cases, but he said the Commission will “take action” if a member state fails to fulfil its obligations and does not recognise the card.
Card holders should note, though, that it cannot be used to cover planned treatment in another country.
What to do if your EHIC is not accepted
Nevertheless, in the case of emergency care, if a patient finds the EHIC is not accepted when it should be then they are advised to contact the relevant health authority of their host country.
Card holders should note there is also an EHIC app for smartphones and tablets, which contains useful emergency contact numbers.
The app contains various other handy details such as how to claim reimbursement following medical care, which treatments are covered and what to do if you lose your EHIC.
If a patient continues to face problems in getting the EHIC accepted, they are advised to then contact their home country’s health authorities and failing that, get in touch with the European Commission.