My partner and I are planning a holiday in Spain. How do we access public healthcare services if one of us becomes ill?
Answer (July 2017)
You and your partner each need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This card allows you to access public healthcare services if you become ill or get injured when visiting certain European countries. It doesn’t cover private treatment or the cost of repatriation to Ireland if required.
The countries covered by the card are the 28 member states of the EU, the three other members of the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) and Switzerland. The card is not required for a visit to the UK if you can show that you are ordinarily resident in Ireland. In practice, this means showing a driving licence, passport or similar document.
If you have a smartphone you can download the free EHIC app.This includes emergency phone numbers and information about the treatments and costs that are covered. The app does not replace the card.
If you already have a medical card or Drugs Payment Scheme card, you can apply online for your EHIC at ehic.ie.
Otherwise, you can download an application form from ehic.ie or get one from your Local Health Office. You need to provide your name, address, date of birth and Personal Public Service Number (PPSN). If your EHIC has expired you can renew it online at ehic.ie. If your details have changed (for example, your address) you will need to contact your Local Health Office to renew the card.
If you have concerns about getting a new or renewed card in time, you can get a Temporary Replacement Certificate, either online or from your Local Health Office. You may also wish to consider taking out private travel insurance for expenses that are not covered by the European Health Insurance Card (such as the costs of repatriation or the expenses of relatives who travel to you if you fall ill abroad).