When you apply for an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as a UK resident, you’ll be able to travel in Europe and receive treatment in any European country as if you were a resident in that country. The EHIC card will pay for your treatment until you return to the UK, even if the treatment is for a pre-existing medical condition or normal pregnancy care.
That doesn’t mean you’ll receive free healthcare. In the UK healthcare treatment is free at the point of delivery (with the exception of dental treatment) as it is paid for through residents’ taxes. In other EU countries, though, residents may have to pay a “patient contribution”, which is less than the full cost of the treatment but is still a charge that we wouldn’t have to pay in the UK.
If you travel in Europe without your EHIC, you would be treated as a non-EU resident, which means you’d have to pay, upfront, the full cost of any healthcare treatment you received. So always take your EHIC!
If you’re travelling to Croatia, there are a few things you need to be aware of when preparing for your holiday. Like the UK, Croatia has two healthcare systems – a private system and a national one. Taking your EHIC with you won’t help you pay for any private treatment, so if you do need medical help make sure you access it through a provider who is funded by the CHIF (Croatian Health Insurance Fund – their national system). If you end up being treated by a private provider you will not be able to recoup the costs.
If you need to visit a doctor, dentist or pharmacist when you’re in Croatia, you may need to pay a small amount up front, but you would need to have an EHIC to pay this amount (HRK10) rather than be treated as a non-EU citizen and pay the full amount.
Hospital treatment will cost HRK100 per day and up to HRK2,000 for a course of treatment. You would normally need to be referred to hospital by a doctor – just as you would in the UK – unless it is an emergency situation. In an emergency, call 112 (a free phone number, even on your mobile) and you can request an ambulance. The ambulance service in Croatia is free.
The contributions you will pay to a doctor, dentist, pharmacist or hospital are far, far less than the full cost of treatment and go to show just how important it is for you to take your EHIC with you – without it, you’d be responsible for the full cost of treatment. It’s always sensible to take your UK passport with you when you go to seek medical treatment as well.
It’s important that you keep all receipts and paperwork relating to any treatment you may receive in Croatia so that you can claim these back through your own travel insurance (which is still recommended even if you have your EHIC).
The EHIC is easy to apply for and as essential for travel to Croatia as your passport. Apply for your EHIC today and don’t leave the country without it!