What is the EHIC card?
If you are from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you have the possibility to request an EHIC. This card will provide you with access to necessary medical care in 32 countries within Europe, and even Australia! (Unfortunately, Australian citizens cannot benefit from an EHIC). What this means for you as an EU/EEA student is that you will be entitled to the same public healthcare that you are in your home country while studying in the Netherlands or travelling across Europe.
Keep in mind that the EHIC does not:
- cover planned treatment abroad.
- cover private healthcare.
- guarantee free treatment in the Netherlands. (There are differences in healthcare systems per country, see below.)
In theory, your healthcare is transferred to the Netherlands. However, this does not mean you are covered for the same medical costs as Dutch citizens. You can be treated by Dutch hospitals and receive the same medical service, but the costs may not be the same. Contact your health service for more information about your level of coverage.
Signing up for an EHIC
We definitely recommend requesting an EHIC if you are from an EU/EEA country. It will be much easier for you to prove that you have healthcare insurance in your home country. You will receive treatment as soon as you present the card and the hospital will then invoice the costs to your domestic healthcare company. Bear in mind that your insurance company will then decide which costs will be invoiced.
You can request an EHIC through your national healthcare insurance organization. It is also advised to look up what is actually covered abroad first, as differences between national healthcare can change across borders, meaning that rules change per country.
How long is EHIC valid?
An EHIC is usually valid for 1 year, but this varies according to your insurance company. If you change company while having an EHIC, your current card will be invalid but you will receive a new one from your new company. If you stay with your company or national health service and the EHIC is expired, only certain companies will automatically give you a new card so be sure to contact your insurance company for more information.
Here is some practical information on how you can use your card. You must consult a registered doctor working under the Dutch healthcare system to use your EHIC. Dental care is not free in the Netherlands if you are over 17 years old but If dental care is covered in your home country, you can ask for reimbursement of these costs from your insurance company or national health service.
Prescriptions are free for basic medication, but you can consult your pharmacist regarding questions about coverage. Non-refundable costs regarding prescriptions can be covered by your home country insurance or national health service. Ambulance fees are free of charge if a registered doctor deems them necessary, as well as trauma helicopters.
Check this article on the EHIC coverage.