European Health Card or travel insurance: which is better?

European Health Card or travel insurance: which is better?
  • The European Health Insurance Card is free and guarantees you medical attention on your travels in Europe
  • Access to health care is provided “under the same conditions and at the same cost” as for citizens of that country.

If you travel through Spain and suffer any medical emergency, you will have no problem receiving emergency public healthcare. On many occasions, this right causes an excess of confidence when we travel abroad that makes us do without travel insurance with health care, since It is common to think that in other countries we will receive the same treatment as in Spain.

It is especially common if the destination is within the European Union, where the European Health Card, which guarantees medical care during a temporary stay within the European Economic Area. That is why it is very important to know the differences between travel insurance and the European Health Insurance Card in order to choose the most appropriate option according to your needs. At Rastreator we tell you the characteristics and what each option covers to help you plan a safe trip.

What is the European Health Insurance Card and what does it cover?

The European Health Insurance Card (TSE) is a free document that allows access to public health care in the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, as long as it is necessary for medical reasons. Access is “under the same conditions and at the same cost” as the insured persons in the country of destination, so the coverage can vary, and a lot, depending on the country.

Therefore, does not cover private healthcare, so it cannot be compared with travel insurance. In addition, it does not include expenses if the reason for the trip is exclusively to receive medical treatment and nor does it guarantee that the medical service is free. In other words, there will be no cost for all health care that is free by the public health system of the country of destination. For example, if you travel to a country where a broken leg or an operation for appendicitis is not covered by public health, you will have to pay for the care even if you carry the European Health Insurance Card.

Differences between the European Health Insurance Card and travel insurance

Both the TSE and travel insurance can guarantee you medical care if you travel through Europe. However, there are several details in both options that make taking out travel insurance with medical expenses very important, especially due to the limitations of the health card. Here we detail the main ones differences between the European Health Insurance Card and travel insurance:

  • Precio: while the health card is a free document, travel insurance entails a payment for accessing a wide variety of coverage.
  • coverage: The European Health Insurance Card is only valid for medical care, while travel insurance protects you against trip cancellation, lost luggage or medical emergencies, among other risks.
  • Personalization: in the case of the European health insurance card, care depends on the country of destination, while with travel insurance the coverage is tailored to your needs. In addition, with a policy you can choose the guarantees that give you the most peace of mind so that you do not have worries during the trip.

Can the European Health Insurance Card replace travel insurance?

The European Health Insurance Card cannot replace all the guarantees offered by travel insurance. They are a good option to travel more economically around Europe, but you must bear in mind that you will not be completely protected against any unforeseen event. However, if your trip is outside the European Union, the only option that guarantees you health care is to have travel insurance with medical expenses.

Besides, With the travel insurance you can access both public and private centers, which can expedite medical assistance. With the European health card you will only receive the care you need in centers that belong to the country’s public health system.

Both are valid options to be covered in case you need medical attention during a trip. The choice between one and the other will depend on the specific needs of each traveler, as well as the destination and duration of the trip. In any case, it is important to be covered to avoid high and unforeseen medical expenses that can ruin the budget of a trip.

Is travel insurance or the European health insurance card better?

The most recommended option to travel safely is get the European health card and, at the same time, take out travel insurance with health care. The main reason is because the travel policy will reimburse your medical expenses if you have gone urgently and received a service that is not included with the health card.

However, in order not to have to pay anything for medical care, The first thing you should do before going to a health center is to contact the insurer. Thus, the company will be in charge of carrying out all the procedures and you will not have to worry about the expenses. In addition, in this way you can be sure if the insurance covers transportation to the hospital and other related expenses. However, if it is an emergency, the first thing you should do is go to the medical center and then manage the procedures with the insurer.

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Alejandro Maisanaba


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