The EHIC was launched in 2006 to provide free or reduced healthcare for citizens of the EEA anywhere within the community.
Pan-European Health CardEU members should be aware of the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) which allows citizens of the European Economic Area (E.U., Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) to obtain emergency medical treatment when temporarily in another member state, for free or at a greatly reduced cost.
The scheme was launched so that people would not have to return home for medical care should they meet an illness or accident whilst visiting a fellow member state. The card is also valid should they have a pre-existing condition which may require frequent care (such as kidney dialysis). The EHIC only entitles the bearer to avail of healthcare normally provided by a statutory health care system in the country where they are present, for this reason travel insurance is not entirely redundant.
The EHIC has been available since January 1st, 2006. It is applicable in all French dependencies (DOM), but not in other self governing territories such as Jersey or Aruba. Be aware that there are certain websites offering procurement of an EHIC for a fee, please avoid these sites as EHIC are available free of charge through the national health authority of all EEA member countries.
The card is in uniform design and can therefore be instantly recognized by all EEA members and it does not contain medical data. Ehic renewal is easy and painless. Further information on the EHIC and how it can be obtained is available here.