While good health is most important, sickness is also common for which apt treatment is necessary. The state authorities help its citizens by way of certain health care facilities. Likewise, EHIC, i.e. the European Health Insurance Card authorizes the card holders to get the health benefits when they visit other countries falling under the European Economic Area, i.e. EEA or Switzerland. EHIC is the document that authorizes the citizens to get medical aid when they go abroad for business trip or holidaying. If you fail to carry EHIC, you may obtain the Temporary Replacement Certificate that will entitle you for the benefits.
EHIC card can be obtained free of cost by applying through HSE Local health offices or through www.ehic.ie. Usually it takes ten days to receive the EHIC. The card is valid for four years and requires renewal upon expiry. Those who visit UK for short periods need not have this card. They can show their Irish Passport or driving license to avail the health care benefits.
Valid areas – Following is the list of the countries that fall under EEA, i.e. the European Economic Area and allow the use of EHIC card for availing the medical facilities. Persons facing emergency during their visit to Europe may dial 112 that is valid in all EU/EEA member states. They need not pay anything as it is free of cost. Emergency services including police, ambulance or any other facilities can be availed of by dialing this number from any mobile or landline phone.
EEA or European Economic Area may be referred to as the free trade zone that falls between states belonging to EU, i.e. European Union, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Rules regarding the health care facilities through EHIC are applicable to Switzerland too. EHIC card holders are permitted to avail of the health care free or at reduced costs during their stay in the above countries. Routine maternity treatments and pre-existing medication facilities are also available under the EHIC. Those intending to have treatment abroad are covered by separate rules. The countries listed in the EEA follow different rules regarding healthcare refunds or claims. It may be noted that medical facilities under EHIC are not available if anyone moves abroad for work, living, studies or planned treatment including giving birth. Private medical treatment is also not covered under this card.
Arrangements have been made by the UK with certain countries outside the EEA for providing health care facilities for the visitors. They are not required to have this card for immediate medical assistance in these states. However, they are required to produce documents of proof that they live in the UK. Passports or driving licenses may suffice for this.