European citizens and residents travelling within the European Economic Area, (i.e. the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland, for private or professional reasons are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which simplifies the procedure when receiving medical assistance during their stay in a member state.
The EHIC entitles the holder to the same treatment at the same cost as a national of that country. For example, if medical care is provided free of charge in the member state where treatment is required, the claimant will be entitled to free medical care on presentation of the card or an equivalent document. However if a fee is normally applicable, this may need to be paid at the time of treatment.
Cards are issued by the institution that provides health insurance in the country of residence. The only personal information on the EHIC is the card holder’s surname and first name, personal identification number and date of birth. The card does not contain medical data. It contains the same information in all countries where it is issued.
The card validity period varies from country to country.
Applying for a card
Many EU countries issue the EHIC by printing the distinctive EU symbol and other relevant information on the reverse side of the standard-issue national health card or its equivalent. For those countries that require a separate application, the Europa website publishes the application process applicable to each EEC member state and Switzerland.
EHIC Smartphone Application
The European Commission (Directorate General Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) has developed a useful multi-language smartphone application which gives details of how to use the EHIC in different countries within the EU. It summarises the treatments, costs, procedure for reimbursement and emergency numbers.
The EHIC in Greece
The European Health Insurance Card allows all legal residents of Greece to benefit from emergency medical treatment and care when temporarily abroad.
Applying for an EHIC in Greece
The EHIC card is issued free of charge. The application can be made at the local Social Insurance Institute (IKA) or at a Citizen Service Centre (KEP).
Greek residents using an EHIC card when out of the country must make sure that their card is valid. Each member of a family, including children under 16, must have their own card. Further information is available from the local Social Insurance Institute.
Claiming in Greece with a card issued elsewhere
A card cannot be used within Greece unless it has been issued elsewhere in the EU. Reimbursements are handled by the Social Insurance Institute (IKA).
Doctors and dentists: Patients must go to a doctor, dentist or clinic working within the IKA scheme. A list of these can be obtained from the local IKA office. In these cases, consultations and treatment are free. For secondary examinations such as X-rays, patients will be required to pay for part of the costs.
Prescriptions: Patients must pay a standard fee plus 25 percent of the cost of the medicines. This is not refundable. If patients pay the full cost of the medicine they will need to keep the prescription and stick the self-adhesive labels on it. They must also obtain a receipt in order to claim reimbursement.
Hospital treatment: Patients will have to pay part of the costs.