The document that anyone needs to have when travelling in Europe is the EHIC, i.e. The European Health Insurance Card. It allows to benefit from health care services when going abroad. It’s needed for both a business travel and a tourist trip.
EHIC constitutes an abbreviation of the name: European Health Insurance Card. It’s a document which confirms the right of the person indicated on it to free medical treatment in EU or EFTA countries other than the State responsible for the issuance of the card.
The EHIC card is personal and applies only to the person indicated on it. EHIC cards aren’t issued for groups of people, in particular there is no such thing as an EHIC card for a family. If the whole family goes abroad, each of its members should have his/her own card.
2. Scope of benefits to which the EHIC entitles
The EHIC card doesn’t entitle to unlimited usage of health care services abroad. The scope of medical treatment for which the document entitles is limited. The card holder can benefit from essential and unplanned treatment. Moreover, treatment should take place under the public health care system of the country concerned and in the same way as its nationals.
As a general rule, the EHIC can’t be used to cover the costs of rescue operations, e.g. in the mountains. It also can’t serve to obtain reimbursement of expenses related to returning to the country of a person who suddenly fell ill abroad. Only if the costs of treatment abroad are higher than the those of transport to Poland, it’s possible to apply for reimbursement of transport costs.
Most often, the settlement of the costs of treatment abroad for a person holding an EHIC card takes place between the competent institutions. However, there are cases where the card holder has to pay for treatment abroad himself/herself and apply for reimbursement of medical expenses after the return to Poland.
3. Who will receive the EHIC card?
Persons registered for health insurance, e.g. employees, are entitled to receive an EHIC card. Such a document may also be issued to an uninsured person who has the right to health insurance benefits on the basis of special provisions, e.g. a child under 18 years who has been registered for health insurance by his/her parent.
4. Where can the EHIC be used?
The EHIC card entitles to receive health services in the territory of the EU and EFTA. It also gives right to medical treatment in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, as well as in overseas territories:
– of France: Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Réunion, Saint Pierre et Miquelon;
– of Spain: Mallorca, the Canary Islands;
– Portugal: the Azores, Madeira.
There are territories in Europe where the EHIC can’t be used. These include:
– San Marino,
– the Channel Islands,
– the Isle of Man.
It should also be noted that in some countries the rights provided by the EHIC can’t be used by a person who holds the card, but doesn’t have the citizenship of an EU Member State. These are: Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Switzerland.
5. How to obtain an EHIC card?
The EHIC is issued at the request of the person concerned. The template for the application is available on the NFZ website (Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia – the National Health Fund).
The application must be accompanied by the necessary documents. The type of attached documents depends on the specific case, for example:
– a person over the age of 18 who is a pupil or a student (including a doctoral student) and who is registered for insurance as a family member – he/she encloses a school/student ID card;
– a person seconded to work abroad – he/she attaches an A1 certificate;
– an unemployed person going abroad to seek employment – he/she encloses the U2 document.
On the basis of the data held, NFZ confirms the applicant’s right to health insurance benefits. Only exceptionally, it may demand the presentation of documents which prove the applicant’s entitlement. The type of document to be submitted depends on the insurance title of the applicant:
|employee||recent certificate completed by the contribution payer|
|farmer||recent certificate from KRUS (Kasa Rolniczego Ubezpieczenia Społecznego – the Agricultural Social Insurance Fund) on being subject to health insurance with NFZ|
|sole trader||current certificates from ZUS (Zakład Ubezpieczeń Społecznych – the Social Insurance Institution) stating that no arrears of contributions have been made|
|pensioner||valid pensioner’s card|
|person receiving pre-retirement allowance||current certificate of pre-retirement allowance receipt|
|unemployed person who isn’t covered by other insurance||recent certificate issued by the labour office|
|student who isn’t covered by other insurance||current certificate from the university on registration for insurance|
|person insured as a family member||– application for insurance as a family member|
– document proving the right to health services of the person who registered a family member for insurance.
|Persons who aren’t insured but have the right to benefits under Article 2(1)(2-4) of the Act of 27 August 2004 on health care services financed from public funds (i.e. Official Journal of 2021, item 1285, as amended)||– decision of the commune head / mayor / city president of the commune in which the applicant lives,|
– document confirming residence in the territory of the Republic of Poland or declaration of residence in the territory of the Republic of Poland,
– document confirming the refugee status or subsidiary protection or temporary residence permit,
– identity document,
– certificate from a doctor (with a date no earlier than 30 days before the date of submitting the application) or a pregnancy history card,
– summary copy of the birth certificate
Another person may submit an application for an EHIC card on behalf of the person concerned. However, he/she should have the power of attorney document and attach it to the request.
No fee is due for the application for an EHIC card.
The request can be submitted in person at any NFZ branch or delegation. It can also be sent by traditional post, as well as submitted via the ePUAP electronic platform or the Internet Patient Account (Internetowe Konto Pacjenta – IKP). An applicant who requests an EHIC card in connection with work abroad can also send the application by e-mail.
6. Period for which the EHIC is issued
The EHIC is issued for a limited period of time. The length of its validity depends on the applicant’s situation:
|20 years||the applicant is a pensioner and has reached the general retirement age|
|until the age of 18||the applicant is under 18 years of age and is insured as a family member|
the applicant is under 18 years of age and has his/her own insurance title or receives a pension
|5 years||the applicant receives a pension but hasn’t reached the general retirement age|
|5 years, but no longer than until the age of 18||the applicant hasn’t reached the age of 18 and doesn’t have insurance, but has Polish citizenship|
|3 years||the applicant is an employee|
the applicant conducts an economic activity
the applicant receives a pre-retirement allowance or benefit
|18 months||the applicant is receiving a pension and has reached the age of 18|
the applicant is insured as a family member and has reached the age of 18
the applicant is insured as a student
the applicant is a pupil over 18 years of age and has his/her own insurance title,
|6 months||the applicant provides services on the basis of an agency or mandate contract or other service contract|
the applicant is engaged in home based work
the applicant isn’t insured but has the right to benefits on the basis of special entitlements
|2 months||the applicant is registered with the Labour Office as an unemployed person|
the applicant is an insured person not previously mentioned or is a person for whom the health insurance obligation hasn’t been fulfilled
|90 days||the applicant doesn’t have insurance, but fulfils the income criterion for receiving social assistance benefits|
|42 days||the applicant doesn’t have insurance but is in the postnatal period, has Polish citizenship and lives in Poland|
|validity period determined individually on the basis of the A1 certificate (this period is the same as the period indicated in the A1 certificate) or the U3 document||the applicant is a person seconded to work abroad or looking for a job in another country|
|validity period determined individually on the basis of a certificate from a school or university, but for not more than 12 months||the applicant undertakes studies in another Member State|
NFZ may shorten the validity period of the EHIC suggested by the system, if it has information justifying the issuance of the document for a shorter period.
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