If you are travelling in one of the countries of the European Union (or in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein) and require medical attention, your health-related expenses can be taken care of if you present your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
How does the EHIC card work?
The EHIC card replaces the old form E111. Depending on the health charges in effect in the country where you happen to be, the cost of your medical care there will be fully or partly refunded on presentation of your card. This places you on the same footing as a patient from that country.
Important: in some countries, not being able to present an EHIC card may result in private healthcare charges being applied. These are higher and will not be refunded to you back in Belgium.
The EHIC card is:
- individual (so each member of the family needs to have his or her own card)
- limited to temporary stays
- reserved for unplanned healthcare
As a result, this European healthcare provision does not cover any care that you may have planned to undergo in another country.
For more specific healthcare cases, such as admission to hospital or repatriation, a supplementary health policy will give you more extensive cover.
How do you get an EHIC card?
If you are up to date with your mandatory health insurance contributions, you may pick up an EHIC card free of charge from your health fund. Some funds even offer the service of ordering your EHIC card online.
However, make sure that you order your EHIC card sufficiently far in advance so that you have received your card before you leave on your trip.
An EHIC card can be valid for a maximum of two years: if you lose it, your health fund will issue you with a temporary replacement card and, in more urgent cases, can send it to you by fax or e-mail in the country where you are staying.