The EHIC Card and Private Medicine in Europe

Some people head off overseas on holiday or business trips clutching their EHIC card confident in the belief that it will cover them for any medical costs they might incur.

In fact, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Keep in mind

At the outset, there are three critically important points to keep in mind when reading this article:

1. The EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card) is only valid for European Union countries plus one or two others associated with it. Nothing in what follows applies to medical treatment outside of the EU.

2. The position with the use of this card may vary considerably depending upon which of the EU member states you are in. That’s because their health systems are different and therefore just what the card will do for you will vary.

3. The subject area of this article has been subject to inter-governmental squabbling for some years and that looks likely to continue. So, what is accurate today might not be totally accurate tomorrow.

Public versus private health

In general terms, the system is intended to give European Union citizens travelling in another EU country the right to access any freely-provided emergency medical services made available by the country concerned to their own citizens. That access should be free if it is also free to local citizens.

Now although it isn’t entirely explicitly stated, there is an inbuilt assumption that such services are provided by the state. For example, in the United Kingdom, accident and emergency services are almost exclusively provided by the NHS, as opposed to private hospitals. Private hospitals in the UK tend to be aimed exclusively at non-critical treatment or that which is elective in nature.

So, in the UK a visitor from another EU country who was in urgent need of medical attention would almost certainly obtain it from a public health service GP or perhaps an accident and emergency unit. As publicly provided services, these are largely entirely free of charge to a UK citizen, so they would also be covered by the visiting EU citizen’s EHIC card.

Things aren’t the same everywhere

Unfortunately, in some other European countries, the distinction between public and private treatment can be rather more blurred. In some countries, private hospitals may provide certain components of treatment that might normally be offered by the NHS in the UK. The citizens may be able to choose between going to a public hospital or GP, and therefore pay nothing all, or going to a private hospital or GP and paying for their treatment or making a substantial contribution to it.

What this means for you

The position is exceptionally complicated but broadly speaking, if you accidentally choose to use a private hospital or private doctor when travelling in the European Union, you may find that they won’t accept your EHIC card. You also typically will not be able to reclaim your expenditure upon your return to the UK.

There is no universal answer to this potential problem other than to be aware of it and to make sure that you take advice abroad when seeking urgent treatment. Make sure you ask the doctor or institution concerned (in advance where practical and safe) whether they are a public or private operation and whether they will take an EHIC card.

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Home Insurance

If you are searching for a home insurance policy, you need to make sure you know exactly what you are doing. There are many things to know about the process, and there is ample opportunity for mistakes if you don’t know what to ask for. Here are some mistakes you do not want to make:

Forgetting to Insure Your High Value Items

One of the biggest things that many people overlook when purchasing home insurance is covering their high value items. Many policies will cover your actual house structure as well as a certain percentage of your property like your furniture, clothing, and electronics. However, if you have items in your house that are extremely high in value, such as expensive furs or rare artwork, you may need to purchase additional coverage to ensure that these items are protected.

Not Choosing the Right Deductible

Some people often have difficulty when deciding on a deductible rate. There are pros and cons to both low and high rates. Lower deductibles often come at the expense of a larger premium, while the premiums on higher deductibles are less expensive. You will want to take special care before choosing a higher deductible. You could end up with nothing if you lose all of your possessions and can’t afford to pay the high deductible.

Leaving Out Important Information

The insurance agent will often ask you many questions when they are writing your policy. They will need to know certain things about your property to determine how it should be covered. They may ask the breed of your dog, whether or not you have a swimming pool, or if you have a trampoline in your yard. All of these may seem like odd questions to you, but the insurer needs this information to determine your rate. Not providing accurate information could lead to the cancellation of your policy.

Not Adding Enough Add-On Protection

Home insurance is designed to cover your house and possessions from fire damage, burglary, and wind damage. However, regular policies do not usually cover damage from flooding or earthquakes. If you live in a zone where these things are a possibility, you need to make sure you purchase add-on coverage in the event you lose your home to one of these catastrophic events.

When you are buying a home insurance policy, it is important that you know what all the process entails. Be sure you don’t make any of these mistakes when choosing a policy. You want to make sure that you have enough if the unthinkable happens.