For expats (temporarily) living in Germany, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), or Europäische Krankenversicherungskarte in German, is an essential piece of documentation. This article aims to explain what an EHIC is, how to apply for it, and what will be covered with the EHIC in Germany. It will also answer important questions such as "What if I need medical treatment while abroad?" and "Can I use my EHIC card in Germany?”.
What is a EHIC - European Health Insurance Card?
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is a free card that can be used to claim reimbursement on medical treatment received abroad. The card has been available to European citizens since January 1, 2006 that travel or reside temporarily within the European Economic Area (European Union, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein, as well as Switzerland and the United Kingdom), whether for personal or professional reasons.
The European Health Insurance Card is issued by the health insurance provider of your country of residence. It entitles you to state-provided healthcare under the same conditions and at the same price as a citizen of the country visiting. Private medical care is not covered by the card.
Can I use my EHIC card in Germany?
If you are temporarily residing in or visiting Germany and you’re from a European Union country, or Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, or the United Kingdom, you are eligible for a card that can be used in Germany.
Non-EU citizens who are legally residing in the EU and are enrolled in a state social security program are also eligible for a EHIC card. Each separate family member should have their own card.
If you are visiting Germany longterm and have a permanent residence certificate or you are from a Non-EU country as listed above, then your EHIC won’t cover any medical treatment costs. In that case you must register Germany as your new habitual residence and the general compulsory health insurance applies, which can either be a Statutory Health Insurance (GVK) or a Private Health Insurance, depending on your personal situation.
How do I get a German EHIC card?
You can obtain a EHIC card by getting in touch with the national health insurance company where you have coverage and is consequently responsible for covering your medical expenses. They are must issue you the card on request, as this is your right as a European citizen/resident. If they are not able to provide you a EHIC at short notice, then they have to provide you with a provisional card.
Depending on where you live, you will need to request the card online, via post or in person at the adequate offices. Persons who are legally insured in Germany do not need to apply for the European Health Insurance Card, as it will be automatically printed on the back of the insurance card.
Which Countries are covered?
The EHIC is valid in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom.
Using your EHIC card in Germany
Bring your EHIC card with you when visiting a doctor or dentist in Germany - even if the card has expired. The doctor will ask for it when they register your visit on their system; this is vital so that they can charge the correct amount back to the patient's home country authorities rather than having to bill their own national health service directly.
Renewing your EHIC card
A EHIC card is valid for 5 years and you will need to apply for renewal of the card before the expiry date has been reached. This can be done online or by post and it is free of charge, so there are no hidden costs. Up to six months prior to the expiration of your current card, you can apply for a new one.
How Much Does an EHIC Cost?
You will not be charged anything by your health insurance provider when you apply for a European health Insurance Card. Once you obtain your EHIC, you will be entitled to medical assistance, in a foreign country, be it an emergency or a routine care treatment, including injury and illness.
If you don’t have your European Health Insurance Card with you, the expense of treatment outside of your home country may be tough to bear. Make sure that after you get your card, you always carry it with you everywhere you go.
However, keep in mind that even if healthcare is free in the country you’re visiting, prescription costs can still apply to you. This implies that the patient should cover these costs up front before requesting reimbursement from their EHIC provider.
EHIC card Germany - Brexit
According to the Partnership Agreement, social insurance agencies can essentially continue to apply EU laws as if the United Kingdom were still a state member. Therefore, the UK EHIC can be used while visiting:
- an EU country
This means that the European Health Insurance Card Germany allows UK citizens to get state healthcare in Germany after Brexit. An UK EHIC may become valid in more countries in the future.
You can only use a UK EHIC in Germany if you're a UK national, a citizen of another EU Member State, a refugee, a stateless person, or if you’re a dependant or a family member of someone who holds one of these statuses. You may be asked for proof of your nationality or your status when using your UK EHIC in Germany.
If you have an existing EHIC from the UK, it will remain valid until the expiry date on the card, after which it needs to be renewed.