Information on use of European Health Insurance card

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Information on use of European Health Insurance cardThe European Health Insurance card is to be used for immediate necessary care on an emergency basis whilst on a temporary visit in all 27 EU member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The EHIC helps save time, hassle and money if one feels ill or suffers an injury whilst abroad. The card ensures that citizens get the same access to public sector healthcare on the same financial basis as the nationals of the country visited. Planned treatment is not covered by the European Health Insurance card but requires prior authorisation.

Since each country has its own rules, in some countries services are provided free of charge. In others, people pay part of the costs themselves, called co-payment, a charge which is non-refundable or they may have to pay the full costs first and claim partial refund afterwards. The EHIC complements private insurance, but is not a substitute for it, therefore the latter is always highly recommended since the card does not cover certain things like ambulance trips, and the costs of bringing the person back to Malta in the event of serious illness, accidents or deaths.

To date, the cross-border healthcare section within the Entitlement Unit has received 1600 bills for a total of 0.9 million Euros. This amount represents only bills received to date and may not cover all the treatment actually provided. The European Commission estimates that there is a further 500million in bills, for treatment given up to 31st December 2007, that have not been submitted to the competent member states as yet. The European Health Insurance Card should be used in a responsible manner since bills are ultimately covered by Maltese public funds. Fraudulent use may be investigated and penalised.

The Entitlement Unit issued 61,204 cards during 2009 and 24,000 between 1st January and 30th June 2010. Applicants may apply online with an E-ID on www.sahha.gov.mt or by downloading an application form from the same site, or by getting a form from all Local Councils and the Entitlement Unit. One should apply well in advance (at least 1 month before travelling) especially during summer months. If any problems are encountered whilst abroad one should contact the Entitlement Unit during working hours or by email on entitlement.mhec@gov.mt. Details are found on the reverse side of the card.

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