European Health Insurance Card: Your Key to Medical Care Across Europe

Society » HEALTH | June 17, 2024, Monday // 10:11
Bulgaria: European Health Insurance Card: Your Key to Medical Care Across Europe

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides individuals with access to emergency and urgent medical or dental care while traveling for tourism, study, or work. It is valid across all European Union member countries, as well as in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Serbia, and North Macedonia.

Obtaining the EHIC is a straightforward process and is free for all insured individuals, children up to 18 years old, and pensioners. Applications are submitted in person at designated branches of the First Investment Bank. An identity document such as an ID card, foreign passport, or alien card is required for verification, and the application form is filled out and printed by bank employees for signature.

If an applicant cannot appear in person, a power of attorney must be presented along with the necessary identity documents of both parties. Notarization of the power of attorney is not required, except in cases involving marital relations, where additional verification may be needed.

The EHIC is typically issued within 15 calendar days at the same bank branch where the application was submitted. Its validity varies: one year for adults over 18, 5 years for individuals under 18 (or until they reach 18), and 10 years for pensioners. Renewal can be initiated no earlier than 25 calendar days before expiration.

The card guarantees access to healthcare under the same conditions as locals in the visited country. If medical care is free for residents, it is also free for EHIC holders upon presentation of the card. Medical expenses incurred can be reimbursed either immediately or upon return to Bulgaria, depending on the local healthcare system and payment regulations.

In cases where the EHIC is not in possession during a medical emergency abroad, healthcare providers can contact Bulgaria's National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to verify insurance and provide a temporary certificate for up to two months. Costs paid out-of-pocket can potentially be reimbursed upon presentation of original payment documents to the regional health insurance fund in Bulgaria.

In Bulgaria, the application for the card is submitted in person at a branch of the First Investment Bank (it is filled out and printed by an employee of the bank for signature). It is necessary to carry an identity document (identity card, passport or foreigner's card). The document is submitted for data verification. It is not necessary to carry the old health card.

The EHIC ensures that Bulgarian citizens receive medical assistance from facilities and doctors under contract with the public healthcare system of the visited country. However, additional payments or user fees required by local healthcare systems are the responsibility of the EHIC holder and may not be reimbursed upon return to Bulgaria.

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Tags: European, health, card, EHIC

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