How do you obtain a card?
You obtain a free EHIC by contacting the health insurance institution where you are insured, after which your local authority will be obliged to provide you with a card. Note that the European Commission is not responsible for issuing EHIC cards.
Once attained, your home country is responsible for assuming your healthcare costs when traveling within the EU.
Who can benefit from the card?
To be eligible for a card, you must be insured by or covered by a state social security system in any Member State of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Each separate member of a family travelling should have their own card.
People from non-EU countries who are legally residing in the EU and are covered by a state social security scheme are also eligible. However, cover for nationals from non-EU countries does not extend to Denmark, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
What does the card cover?
The card covers you for medically necessary treatments and for a basic level of state healthcare in Spain. For example, if you sustain an injury or illness whilst being away. However, it is important to know that it may not cover all of your costs. If a Spanish national is expected to pay a fee towards their treatment in Spain, those visiting, even if you have an EHIC card, would be expected to pay the same.
You can only use your EHIC card in public hospitals; it does not cover you for private health care. If you would like private healthcare, you will have to pay or take out separate medical insurance.
The EHIC is designed for a temporary stay in Spain and therefore, if you end up spending more time in Spain than you do in your country of origin, you will need to find another form of health insurance.
If you make the decision to move your habitual residence to Spain, you should register with the S1 form. You should access healthcare with this, instead of using the EHIC to receive medical care.
Student status and the EHIC
Students from the EU and people who are in Spain on a student status, for example as a teaching assistant, are entitled to use their EHIC card for the entirety of their stay. In this case, it is not necessary to take out private health insurance unless you want to have extra coverage.
Make sure to have this sorted before you leave for Spain, as not doing so can result in bureaucratic problems.
This article has been published by the European Commission - more information under http://europa.eu.