It is a well documented fact that far too many of us, for reasons ranging from apathy to ignorance, travel abroad without insurance. Leaving aside the financial losses which can be incurred if we have to cancel or curtail our holiday, if the airline loses our luggage or if we fall victim to theft, perhaps lurking at the back of our minds is the safety net of the European Health Insurance card (EHIC), the modern day equivalent of the old E111.

Things, however, are not as straightforward as many of us think. The EHIC does entitle holders to medical treatment in all EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, on the same basis as an “insured” resident of these countries. However, it may not cover all that you would expect to get here under the NHS and you may also have to pay for part of the treatment.

Below you will find at-a-glance details of what you can expect to be charged and what you can reclaim in each of the countries covered by the EHIC. For more comprehensive details including how to claim any refunds to which you are entitled see the Department of Health website The website also provides information about out-patient treatment in hospitals and dental treatment.
EHIC

EHIC Plus Top-Up Policy

A new type of travel insurance policy has been introduced by the Medical Screening Company called EHIC Plus. The basic idea is that you should be able to get travel insurance to cover you in Europe which takes into account the fact that everyone is entitled to, and should have, a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and reduces your premiums in accordance with this.

While the EHIC will cover you for medical treatment in state hospitals but there are certain things that are not covered such as emergency medical treatment and repatriation to the UK after an accident. EHIC Plus has filled this gap and offers great premiums and cover for the extras that are not covered by you EHIC providing you are a UK citizen, have a valid EHIC and request to be taken to a state hospital upon needing any medical care.

With annual policies starting from just £20 and no upper age limit, EHIC Plus are a great option for those looking to save money on their travel insurance premium for trips to areas covered by the EHIC. Visit the EHIC Plus site to get a quote.

General advice

Austria

Prescriptions – you will be charged a fixed sum for prescribed medication, which is not refundable.

Doctors – if you go to a private doctor you will be charged but may be entitled to a partial refund.

Hospital – there is a charge made in state hospitals for the first 28 days and this is not refundable. If you go to a private hospital you may be entitled to a refund, although conditions governing refunds vary depending on the hospital used.

Belgium

Prescriptions and Doctors – you will be charged but can claim back 75% of the cost.

Hospital – you will be charged but part of this is refundable. In addition you will have to pay the cost of ambulance transport, which is non-refundable.

Cyprus

(the EHIC is not valid in Northern Cyprus)

Prescriptions - free of charge

Doctors – you will be charged a patient contribution of one Cyprus pound which is non-refundable.

Hospital – no charge is made for state hospitals.

Czech Republic

Prescriptions – part of the cost is chargeable and non-refundable.

Doctors – treatment is free provided the doctor works for the public health service.

Hospital – no charge is made for state hospital treatment.

Denmark

Prescriptions – you will be charged and the rate of refund varies according to the drug prescribed. There is no refund for amounts below DKK 520.

Doctors – you will be charged but provided the doctor is registered with the Danish Public Health Service all charges are refundable.

Hospital – no charge is made for state hospitals.

Estonia

Prescriptions – the amount you will be charged varies, from a standard fee to the full cost, according to which drug you are prescribed and none of the charges are refundable.

Doctors – you will be charged for part of the costs of treatment and this is non-refundable.

Hospital – with certain exceptions, such as intensive care, you will be charged EEK 25 per day for the first ten days of any hospital stay and this is non-refundable. Transport by ambulance in an emergency is free.

Finland

Prescriptions – you will have to pay the full costs but can reclaim 50% subject to a minimum limit.

Doctors – charges vary depending on where you are staying. Treatment could even be free. You can claim a partial refund of fees charged by private doctors.

Hospital – you will have to pay a fixed charge per day and these are non-refundable.

France

Prescriptions – you will be charged according to what drug you are prescribed but between 35% and 65% can be reclaimed in most instances (not if the statement is marked NR). Bandages and common drugs are refunded at the lower rate.

Doctors – you will have to pay but provided the doctor works for the state health system you can reclaim about 70%.

Hospital – you will have to pay 25% of the cost of in-patient treatment plus a fixed daily charge, neither of which is refundable.

Germany

Prescriptions – in most cases you will be charged a percentage of the cost which is non-refundable. You will be charged the full amount for minor items such as painkillers and again no refund is due.

Doctors – a fixed amount is charged which is non-refundable.

Hospital - treatment charges are paid by the insurance fund but a fixed daily charge is levied for the first four weeks which is non-refundable.

Greece

Prescriptions – you will be charged a small fee plus 25% of the cost of the drug, neither of which will be reimbursed.

Doctors – no charge is made apart from items such as X -rays.

Hospital – no charge is made provided your admission has been approved by a doctor.

Hungary

Prescriptions – depending on the drug, it may be free or you may have to pay some or all of the costs, which are non-refundable.

Doctors – no charge is made.

Hospital – treatment and ambulance transport are free although if you pay for extra services, including superior food or accommodation, this is non-refundable.

Iceland

Prescriptions – you will be charged a fixed fee which is non-refundable.

Doctors – a fixed fee of IKR 700 is payable and non-refundable.

Hospital – treatment is free although a charge is made for ambulance transport up to a maximum of IKR 2400.

Ireland

Prescriptions, Doctors and Hospital – no charge is made.

Italy

Prescriptions – depending on the drug, it may be free or a fixed charge may be made which is non-refundable.

Doctors – no charge is made.

Hospital – treatment is free of charge although depending on the area you may have to pay for prescribed drugs and/or ambulance transport, which may or may not be refundable .

Latvia

Prescriptions – depending on the drug a charge may be levied which is non-refundable.

Doctors – you will have to pay a fixed non-refundable fee.

Hospital – you will be charged an admission fee plus a daily amount, again non-refundable.

Liechtenstein

Prescriptions, Doctors and Hospital - charges apply but a refund can be claimed.

Lithuania

Prescriptions – depending on the drug you may have to pay nothing, the full amount or between 10% and 50%. Nothing is reimbursed.

Doctors and Hospital – no charge is made.

Luxembourg

Prescriptions and Doctors – you will be charged but will be able to reclaim all or part of the costs.

Hospital – there is no charge for treatment but you will have to pay the daily charge which is non-refundable.

Malta

Prescriptions – you may be charged and this is non-refundable.

Doctors – no charge is made.

Hospital – treatment is free but you will be charged a non-refundable fee for prescribed drugs.

The Netherlands

Prescriptions – you may be charged nothing, the full cost or part of the cost and this is non-refundable.

Doctors and Hospital – no charge is made

Norway

Prescriptions– these will usually be free but if you require drugs for a chronic condition you will be charged 36%, up to a maximum limit.

Doctors – a standard fee will be charged which is non-refundable.

Hospital – free of charge.

Poland

Prescriptions – depending on the drug, you may get it free or have to pay part or all of the costs which are non-refundable.

Doctors and hospital – free of charge.

Portugal

Strictly speaking you do not need an EHIC in Portugal because of a reciprocal agreement with the UK. It may, however, make life easier to have one.

Prescriptions – you will be charged a non-refundable fee covering 30% to 80% of the costs, apart from drugs for serious illnesses which are free.

Doctors – you will have to pay a non-refundable fixed fee.

Hospital – free of charge apart from things such as blood tests and X rays, which are non-refundable.

Slovakia

Prescriptions – you will have to pay a fixed fee and in certain circumstances, part of the cost of the drug. There is no refund due.

Doctors – you will be charged a contribution which is non-refundable.

Hospital – you will be charged a non-refundable daily fee up to a maximum of 21 days. Most treatment and drugs are free but a non-refundable charge will be made for complex procedures. Ambulance travel is only free in life or death situations.

Slovenia

Prescriptions – Depending on the drug, some are free, some are charged in full and for others you will have to pay between 25% and 75%. No refunds can be claimed.

Doctors – you will not be charged provided the doctor is a state practitioner or contracted to the ZZZS (the Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia).

Hospital – no charges except for ambulance travel where a doctor has not referred you to the hospital. You will then be charged 70% of the costs which are non-refundable.

Spain (including Balearics and Canaries)

Prescriptions – you will be charged up to 40% which is non-refundable, unless you are a pensioner in which case no charge is made.

Doctors and hospital – no charges for state doctors or for treatment in a public ward of a public hospital.

Sweden

Prescriptions – you will have to pay all of the costs up to a certain amount and then part of the excess. None of this is refundable.

Doctors – you will be charged part of the costs and again this is non-refundable.

Hospital – free apart from a fixed daily fee which is non-refundable.

Switzerland

Prescriptions and Doctors – you will be charged the full amount but can claim a refund.

Hospital – as well as the refundable amount you will also have to pay a non-refundable fixed charge, known as the excess charge, plus a small non-refundable daily contribution towards bed and board. You will also be charged for 50% of the cost of ambulance transport including air ambulance.