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European Health Insurance

Going abroad? Dig deep and see what we can help you with

European Health Insurance will be vital for any prospective students wishing to study abroad in Europe. Health insurance will cover individuals for any accidents and illnesses they may have during their stay in another country.

Do I need Health insurance abroad?

Did you know that health insurance is mandatory for each and every citizen living in Switzerland? That means if you intend to live in the country for longer than three months then you must purchase your own health insurance.  This includes students on degree courses that last longer than three months at a time, which most degrees do.

However if you a UK citizen your health insurance is the National Health Service – NHS – and that is valid for the whole continent. You do need to obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which proves you are covered by health insurance in your home country and you cannot be refused treatment. If you do not have or lose your EHIC card at the time of an unplanned medical incident, then you may need to pay for the costs up front and be reimbursed later (make sure you keep all of the receipts.)

Unplanned healthcare

This means that if you unexpectedly fall ill or are involved in an accident, the country which you are currently situated cannot refuse to give you treatment. However there is a big difference between unplanned healthcare and planned medical treatment, this can refer to going overseas to undergo treatment for surgery which is not covered by your health insurance.

How much does the EHIC card cost?

The EHIC is absolutely free of charge and you can apply for or renew your card online.

What does the EHIC card mean?

The EHIC card will enable you access to state-provided healthcare in European Economic Area Countries (EEA), including Switzerland at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. It will cover treatment until you return to the UK. It can also cover treatment for pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care, providing the reason for your health visit in another country is not specifically to give birth. You can check what is covered in each country in this guide.(country-by-country guide.)

How do I apply for an EHIC card?

You can apply via the official EHIC online application form (EHIC online application form). However, beware of unofficial websites which state you have to pay for them as it is false. You can also apply by phoning 0300 3301350, or download the application form and return it to the NHS Business Services Authority.

What do I need to apply for an EHIC card?

A main applicant for the EHIC must be a resident in the UK, and of British, other EU/EEA or Swiss nationality to be eligible for the card. You can provide a National Insurance (NI) or NHS number, for example, as it can help to prove certain applicants are entitled to hold an EHIC. However, residents of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not eligible for an EHIC Card. If you live in another EEA country, and you receive a state pension, or any other benefit paid to you when you move abroad, you may be entitled to a UK-issued EHIC card.

Is there anything that my EHIC card doesn’t cover?

  • Non-EU nationals can’t use their EHIC card for medical treatment in Denmark.
  • Croatian nationals cannot use their EHIC card in Switzerland
  • The card will not help you with rescue and repatriation – it can’t bring you back home free of charge if you fall seriously ill, or suffer an incapacitating accident whilst in another EU country. You will need separate insurance cover for this which we recommend.
  • The EHIC card does not cover you for private health care or any costs related to planned treatment in another EU country.

Do I need any other type of cover?

We do recommend purchasing additional health insurance coverage for the dates you are studying abroad in case of emergencies. You should make sure your additional health insurance will cover any places you intend to travel and any activities you may take part in e.g. swimming, surfing or mountain climbing. Rescue and save policies is another service which can incur high costs without insurance, for example if you were out on a tour guide and fell into a well, the local services would need to come to rescue you and you would be charged for these services.

Students studying abroad should carry their EHIC card and any information regarding their health insurance with them at all times in case of emergencies. In some cases you may receive health care when abroad but will be charged, if this is the case you can apply to receive the rebate from the NHS in the UK after you are out of hospital or once the care has finished its course.