Free European Health Insurance Card – EHIC

If you are planning on travelling within Europe  – it’s a good idea to apply for a European Health Insurance Card  (EHIC ) (Formerly known as the E111)

The EHIC is a FREE card available to all residents of Ireland which entitles them to get free or reduced price public  healthcare if needed whilst travelling in Europe.

An EHIC card allows you access to health care services when travelling to other EU or EEA countries. It doesn’t cover all medical costs in all countries.
It won’t cover private medical costs or the cost of repatriation back to Ireland. For extra cover and peace of mind you should probably also have travel insurance.

The  EHIC card basically gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any of the 28 EU countries, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, under the same conditions and at the same cost (free in some countries) as people insured in that country.

Irish Residents Visiting the UK  –

Note:  Irish residents don’t currently need a European Health Insurance Card,to get necessary healthcare while on a temporary visit to the UK. It is enough to show proof that you are ordinarily resident in Ireland –  such as a driving licence, passport or similar document. You may need your PPS number.
This arrangement will continue after Brexit.

The reverse also applies to UK residents visiting Ireland. They don’t need an EHIC card to get necessary healthcare while on a temporary visit to Ireand. Proof of UK residence is enough.  This is not expected to be affected by Brexit.
The arrangements for UK residents visiting other EU countries after 2021 is yet to be decided as part of ongoing Brexit negotiations.

Irish residents can apply here to the HSE for an EHIC card .

Travel Insurance TIPS:

Bank of Ireland give free worldwide multitrip travel insurance with their Platinum Credit Card OR  Student Credit Card.  (as long as you paid for at least 50% of the trip using the card. )  . Insurance is provided by AIG

N26 – the new online bank – have travel insurance included with their N26 You Mastercard . Insurance is provided by Allianz .
The card has a €9.90 per month fee – but it also comes with fee-free ATM withdrawals of foreign currency and no fees on non-Euro purchases.
The trip must be paid for in full with the N26 Black Mastercard in order to be covered by the insurance . You get Luggage cover,  Delay Insurance, Flight Delay, Cancellation Insurance, Foreign Medical Expenses Insurance.

It normally takes 10 days or less to receive your EHIC card.Online applications are only available for medical card holders or people on the drug payment scheme. All others have to apply by post . (Details also here).

There is no charge for an EHIC  : beware of some websites trying to look like the official HSE EHIC  application site. They will try to charge you as much as €40 just to redirect you to the HSE site or to send you a form.

It is advisable to also take out travel insurance even if you have an EHIC.

The EHIC  doesn’t cover 100% of medical costs in all countries (see examples below). It doesn’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. Also, some private hospitals may not accept the EHIC .

Some Examples of EHIC Cover

France :

Visitors must first pay for treatment and then apply for a refund of part of the costs. Around 70% of standard doctors’ and dentists’ fees are refunded, and between 35% and 65% of the cost of most, but not all, prescribed medicines.

Hospital treatment
For in-patient treatment, an EHIC will entitle you to get 75% of the cost paid directly to the hospital. You pay the balance. You must also pay a fixed daily hospital charge (forfait journalier).

GP – Treatment under the European Health Insurance Card is only provided by practitioners within the Spanish Health Service.  If you need to call out a doctor in an emergency, make it clear that you have a European Health Insurance Card and that you will want to be treated under EU arrangements.

Dental treatment costs will not be reimbursed.

Medicines prescribed –  You will have to pay up to 40% of the cost unless you are a pensioner, in which case the medicines will be free of charge.

Hospital treatment
If you require urgent treatment, it will only be provided free of charge in a public ward at a public hospital if you have an EHIC .

Portugal – Basic hospital treatment is free with an EHIC but you will have to pay for secondary examinations, such as X-rays, and laboratory tests.

Tourists visiting Ireland with an EHIC will be entitled to 100% free GP services, A&E services and  Hospital inpatient treatment.