Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea

Tips for exchange students – the importance of having the European Health Insurance Card or private health insurance

We have a tip for exchange students and their families: do not leave medical insurance for the last moment.

You have already contacted a family and have spoken about the exchange you want to carry out, planned the days you are going to spend together and decided what you want to do. You have arranged practically everything. This experience will go very well, surely. But for it to really turn out that way, you have to foresee some possible setbacks. Here we want to give some tip to all exchange students and their families. Let’s start by discussing medical coverage.

Now, nobody wants to get sick, but these things do happen. If you don’t believe us, take it from our dear swapy, Greta.

As explained in a previous post, Greta – an 80-year-old English woman of Austrian origin – was our first “swapy”. She was living with the Sánchez family, a couple from Barcelona, their three daughters and their grandma Marta.

Greta and the Sánchez family had planned a week full of activities but, unfortunately, Greta was taken ill with a cold. As a result, even though she still wanted to participate in all the activities they had organised. Her body would not allow her to do so.

However, Greta is an experienced and organised woman who had carried her private health insurance card and their contact number with her. Thus, she called the company. They told to visit any private hospital and reimburse the money for the care received and the possible diagnostic tests conducted.

And so she did, with Marta accompanying her to the hospital. While some language problems arose at first, they were quickly resolved. Greta’s willingness, Marta’s involvement, and the doctors’ professionalism made the communication easy.

Fortunately, after a couple of days, Greta recovered and the plans on the agenda could continue.

Although going through an experience such as this is never desirable, it does allow another point of view on the idiosyncrasies of a country. Greta, albeit reluctantly, has been able to learn about the healthcare system in Catalonia. She also has learned the procedure of her medical company, which, she says, has responded satisfactorily after being presented with the required documentation. So remember to keep all necessary documents with you.

Another tip for language exchange students and their families: it is important to know the particularities of the medical insurance you have.

Before embarking on your trip, it is important that you check your health coverage. Confirm that you have all the necessary information at hand (such as international and local telephone numbers, etc.). This is because if you happen to require it, you will appreciate being able to use this information quickly and safely.

Moreover, you can have a private medical insurance or apply for the European Health Insurance Card. This card is free and allows access to public healthcare during a temporary stay. It cover any of the 28 member states of the EU (in addition to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). This healthcare is provided to the visitors under the same conditions and at the same cost as to the people who are insured in that country. However, it should be noted that it is a personal and non-transferable accreditation. All members of the family must have their own cards if they are travelling to an EU country.

Do you know how you can get the European Health Card?

The social security offices of every country issue this card, so we recommend that you check the European Community website.

Healthcare may seem a secondary bureaucratic issue. But knowing your situation in this regard and proceeding to apply for the European Health Card or hire a private health insurance is something that, if ever needed, can be of great help.

We remind you that in the case of an emergency, if you are anywhere in the EU, you can contact the emergency services by calling 112 free of charge.

Our tip for students of language exchange programmes and their families is: do not leave the processing of medical insurance or European Health Insurance Card for the last moment, as it usually takes a few days.

If you want to live an experience of linguistic exchange, you can enter Swap Family, meet other families and organize it yourself. We wait for you!

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