The European Reciprocal Health Agreement Explained
The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 member states, located primarily in Europe. One of the benefits of being an EU member state is the European Reciprocal Health Agreement (ERHA).
This agreement allows EU citizens to access necessary medical treatment during a temporary stay in another EU member state, without incurring additional costs or expenses. This arrangement also covers family members accompanying the patient and medical treatment related to pregnancy and childbirth.
The ERHA is not limited to emergency treatment and covers pre-existing medical conditions as well. However, it is important to note that the agreement does not cover medical treatment for people specifically travelling for medical reasons or elective procedures.
The agreement is particularly useful for people who frequently travel within the EU, including students studying in another member state, business travellers, and tourists. It ensures that they are not left without medical coverage in case of an emergency or illness.
To take advantage of the ERHA, travellers need to carry their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with them. The EHIC is issued free of charge and is valid for up to five years. It is important to note that the EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance, as it does not cover private healthcare or repatriation costs.
In addition to EU member states, the ERHA also applies to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. These countries are known as European Economic Area (EEA) countries and have the same rights and obligations as EU member states in terms of medical treatment.
Brexit and the ERHA
With the United Kingdom`s departure from the EU, the EHIC is no longer valid for British citizens. In its place, the UK government has launched a new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which provides similar coverage to the EHIC but only within the EU. The GHIC also covers pre-existing medical conditions and emergency treatment, but not medical treatment specifically sought for travel purposes.
The European Reciprocal Health Agreement is a useful benefit for EU citizens and those visiting EU member states. It ensures they can access necessary medical treatment during a temporary stay in another member state without incurring additional costs or expenses. Travellers should remember to carry their EHIC or GHIC with them and purchase appropriate travel insurance to ensure they are covered for all eventualities.