If you’re planning on travelling to or living in France, it’s important you ensure you have the right health cover. If the worst should happen and you or a member of your family falls ill or is involved in accident, the last thing you want to think about is the huge bill you could face for medical care from a French health provider. The easiest way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to apply for European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for yourself and you family. This card entitles you to get health care in France at a greatly educed cost, and can give you peace of mind about your health cover.
How does the European Health Insurance Card work?
For French citizens, the EHIC card is known as the Carte Européenne d’Assurance Maladie (CEAM), which can be ordered online. If you are resident in the UK, you can also apply for your EHIC card online for free.
Your EHIC card is designed to provide you with necessary healthcare for EU Citizens travelling within EEA member countries, however, each member of your family will require their own EHIC card to be eligible for reduced treatment.
Your EHIC will an be used to cover any medical treatment deemed to be necessary arising out of accident or illness in the EEA and will usually be valid for between three and five years. You are entitled to treatment in the country you are travelling to, and this treatment will be of the same standard as that provided to nationals that are covered by the state’s medical insurance scheme.
I have a pre-existing illness, is this covered?
You can use your EHIC for treatment of a pre-existing illness, routine maternity care and also a chronic disease. However, conditions may apply and those looking to travel to a country with the intention of receiving different or better medical care will not be covered.
What am I covered for?
Your EHIC card entitles you to ‘necessary’ treatment, however, the entire cost of the care you receive may not be covered. One of the main examples is where treatment could wait until you returned home – as is the case with the majority of dental treatment.
EHIC holders are entitled to the same treatment as those covered by the French State medical insurance system, however, this differs from the cover offered in the UK. It operates on an specified price list (the tarif de convention) and reimbursements for treatment will be made on this basis. However, medical practitioners are entitled to charge more than the tarif de convention for some treatment, and you will be required to pay any excess.
Exactly what is covered, and what will I be charged for?
After your treatment, make sure you get an itemised statement of the treatment you have received signed by the medical practitioner, otherwise you will not be able to claim your refund.
If you receive any treatment or are prescribed any medicines, you will be charged for this.
Where you receive hospital treatment, the treatment must first be paid for and then you will be refunded part of the cost. You will make your claim from the Sickness Insurance Office (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance-Maladie) whilst you are still in France.
In order to make your claim you must go to the local post office, where they will take your details and any receipts you have. Once you return to the UK, you will receive a statement of your claim. Once this has been agreed, a bank order will be sent out to you. This process may take a number of months.
Do I need to get an EHIC card to travel to France?
It is highly advisable you get an EHIC card if you intend to travel to France. Whilst getting travel insurance is a must, it may not cover many of the things covered by your EHIC. Insurance may not cover any pre-existing medical conditions, or it may be limited by age or the kind of trip you are going on.You should apply for your card before you travel – after all, it’s free!