How to use your EHIC Abroad?

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When traveling, one of the main uncertainties is that of sickness or medical emergencies. Every individual heard the scarring stories of the expensive medical bills churned out in the event of a person afflicted by an illness. While healthcare abroad certainly isn’t cheap, the European Health Insurance Card does make the burden of healthcare costs a little easier for those considering going for a temporary stay abroad.

How do you apply for an EHIC in Ireland?

With the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), individuals who have gone abroad on holiday or for a short stay can avail healthcare in other EU countries or states that fall under the European Economic Area. This healthcare is provided either free of cost or at a reduced price. A short-term stay usually refers to a stay that is shorter than three months. However, when it comes to students, the rules are slightly different. For students, the short stay duration is that of the entire course.

For people living in Ireland, the application process may vary slightly in comparison to those who live in another EEA member state, Switzerland, or another country of the European Union. For Irish citizens, the application process is straightforward, and they can do it either by post, online, if they possess a medical card, or heading over to the local health office. They need to show proof of residence when they are applying for one. Irish pensioners or EU citizens living in Ireland can also apply in this manner. They even post the card to the individual within ten days. The rules vary when it comes to applying for an EHIC in various countries that are part of the EU. Additionally, if someone forgets to carry their card when they are travelling, they can always get a provisional certificate, where the authorities would coordinate with their home country and gather their information before giving them the card.

When applying in person:

There are a few things to keep in mind when applying in person. The individual will have to provide their name, address, DoB, and Personal Public Service number along with proof of address. In addition, they would need to provide their passport or driving license.

When applying by post:

We need to follow the same details mentioned above needed in this case as well. In addition, the individual needs to attach the downloaded EHIC application form. Proof of residence and evidence of the PPS Number will need to be shown so it is advised that photocopies of all these documents be sent at one time.

When applying online:

Only those individuals who hold a drug payment scheme card or a medical card can avail of this option. Similarly, people who are applying for a replacement EHIC cannot do it online.

When individuals living in other EEA/EU states or Switzerland wish to apply Individuals living in Switzerland or any other state in the EU or EEA apart from Ireland will be given access to an Irish- issued EHIC. However, to obtain this, the individuals have to meet any one of the following criteria: 

● They should be recipients of the Ireland state pension and have an Irish-issued S1/ E Form that is registered in the country of residence. 

● They should be posted by their Irish employer to work in another EEA country or Switzerland 

● They should be a family member of an individual posted to work in Ireland and should not be covered in their own right by the EEA country of residence.

If the individual does not fit any of these criteria, he or she will not be eligible for an Irish-issued EHIC. But they can still try to obtain an EHIC in the country they are currently living in.

For those who are members of EU/ EEA or Switzerland residents living in Europe, all you need to do is provide your details along with your Personal Public Service Number on the online portal to apply online. In case you have dependents, the applicant will have to provide similar details of the dependents as well.

If the individual wishes to apply by post, he will have to fill in the application form and should possess an address in Europe and should be residing there permanently.

How would the EHIC work for Irish residents?

According to the norms of the EHIC, in some countries, in the event of a medical emergency, some amount of the cost of the medical services received needs to be paid. This is usually referred to as a patient share or patient co-payment. However, if this is the case, it means the residents in the given country also follow that method.

On the other hand, individuals may also receive a refund if they were charged due to an error or because they did not possess a valid EHIC at the given time. All of this can be handled by the HSE local health office. On filling an E126 form which underlines the kind of health service received and the level of the refund due, it can be submitted and the option of refund will be taken up. However, if the individual opts for private healthcare, it will not be covered under the EHIC.

In case an individual notices that their EHIC is about to expire, the option of renewing it online is available if the person still has the same address and PPS Number. The individual will also need to mention their old EHIC number at the time of renewal and should be currently in Ireland to renew the card. For people who cannot find their old EHIC number or PPS Number, the best option would be to get in touch with the local EHIC office.

Final things to keep in mind

If an individual travels on an urgent basis and is unable to obtain their EHIC before travel, a temporary replacement certificate can be obtained from the local health office. These temporary certificates need to be authorized by the local HSE office to be valid. If this is done, they will provide the same benefits as the EHIC. There are a lot of things to keep in mind when coordinating for an EHIC, and most of the information is already added online on various websites that have FAQs about the EHIC process, so they should not be figuring it out themselves.

There may be an incident where the card expires when an individual is abroad obtaining treatment for a necessary health issue. In this instance, if the temporary certificate cannot be obtained, the healthcare facility may charge the individual for the treatment received. But this can then be refunded when the individual returns by getting in touch with the local health office and informing them of said issue.

Lastly, every member would need to have their EHIC. An individual can apply for himself, his partner, dependents, and children who are under the age of 16. The process is simple and merely requires providing details of the other members

All in all, applying for an EHIC is a fairly simple process. But it is important to know what is covered by it before you rely entirely on the EHIC for healthcare cover.

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