The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) replaces the health insurance certificate for use abroad previously available in paper-form. You find the necessary data on the back of the Austrian "e-card". This card entitles its holder to receive necessary medical treatment during a stay on the territory of a Member State of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) as well as in Switzerland, Macedonia and Serbia. The proof of entitlement to services covered by the EHIC is person-related. Every co-insured family member thus requires a separate "e-card".
The following states recognise the EHIC and provide medical services for the acute treatment of a patient:
- Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus (Greek part, EU), Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom
- Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway (EEA)
- Switzerland, Macedonia, Serbia
In some countries (for instance in Serbia) the EHIC must first be submitted to the social security institution in whose jurisdiction the patient‘s destination is located in order for an entitlement certificate to be issued. Only holders of such an entitlement certificate will be able to receive medical services.
When using medical services (physician or hospital) in these countries it is recommended to show the EHIC if possible before the start of the treatment. Based on international agreements national health panel physicians and national health panel hospitals in these countries are required to accept the EHIC and treat Austrian insurance holders as nationals of their respective state.
Services provided by physicians and hospitals that are not covered by the national health system or do not hold a contract with the national health service or social insurance organisation of the respective residence country, must be paid by the patient first – as is the case in Austria with services provided by doctors of choice and private hospitals that do not hold a contract with the health insurance provider. The health insurance provider in Austria then later refunds the costs for medical treatment abroad – typically, however, only part of the costs will be reimbursed.
When staying in countries that are not included in the above list, please contact your employer or the Auskunftsstelle der Sozialversicherung (the information centre of the social insurance institutions) for further information on medical treatment abroad.
In order to avoid potential abuse, every EHIC has a validity date which is printed on the back of the card. Before the card reaches the end of its validity date those who still hold valid insurance will automatically receive a new EHIC by post. In cases where persons no longer hold insurance but nevertheless use the EHIC abroad, the fees due will have to be reimbursed to the national health insurance service in Austria.
The validity of an EHIC depends inter alia on preceding insurance periods. If the necessary requirements have not (yet) been fulfilled by the card holder, the e-card function on the front of the card is valid but the EHIC function on the back is not. In such a case asterisks will be printed on the respective EHIC fields. If someone thus holds valid insurance coverage in Austria but is not entitled to EHIC coverage, for instance because the card‘s validity has expired, the replacement card is not available, the requirements for being issued an EHIC have not been fulfilled or the card is blocked because it was reported lost, he/she may contact the Austrian health insurance provider before travelling abroad and apply for a “temporary replacement certificate for the EHIC”.