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Frequently asked questions about the European Health Insurance Card

Usually you can receive treatment in an emergency also without the card. However, you may have to pay the real costs for the treatment yourself. In such cases, you can claim reimbursement afterwards from Kela. You may also have to wait at the hospital while they contact Kela and ask Kela to confirm that Finland is responsible for your medical care costs.

In many cases, payment for visits to the doctor can be arranged through travel insurance. However, without a European Health Insurance Card you may have to pay all the costs for the treatment yourself. The costs may also exceed the compensation limit in the travel insurance policy. The insurance terms and conditions may also include restrictions on the payment of compensation.

Severe incidents, such as arrhythmia or severe accidents, are usually treated only in the public health care system. In small communities the local health centre may also be the only place providing treatment.

Yes. The European Health Insurance Card provides statutory security in the EU or EEA countries, in Switzerland, Great Britain or in Northern Ireland. A travel insurance policy provides security as regards private health care services. Therefore it is a good idea to have both.

The passport does not indicate which country is responsible for your medical care costs or in which country you are covered for health insurance. For this reason it does not replace the European Health Insurance Card. In the Nordic countries you can receive treatment by presenting your passport or an ID, because the countries have concluded a convention on social security.

Contact Kela’s Centre for International Affairs (About Kela section) without delay. The Centre can confirm that you are covered for health insurance in Finland or that Finland is responsible for your medical care costs. Kela sends a certificate provisionally replacing the card to you or directly to the hospital.

No. There is no common European register of personal data.

The Kela card is a national health insurance card, and the card is only used in Finland.

A European Health Insurance Card granted by Kela is not used in Finland. The only exception is the European Health Insurance Card for Finnish pensioners who live abroad. The backside of such a card contains information on the pension recipient’s right to medical care in Finland. Read more about the pension recipient's right to medical care in Finland.

Each country awards the card in its own official language(s). Kela issues the card in Finnish or Swedish, since they are the official languages in Finland. The card has the same layout in all countries, only the language varies.

Kela checks every two years that Finland is still the country responsible for your medical care costs. For instance employment abroad may mean that some other country becomes responsible for the medical care costs and awards the European Health Insurance Card. Kela checks this at the same time as the card is renewed.

The European Health Insurance Card is the same for everyone. However, Finnish pensioners who are permanently resident abroad receive a card with a different colour on the backside.

The Kela card is granted to persons who are covered for health insurance in Finland. The European Health Insurance Card issued by Kela can also be granted to persons who are not covered for health insurance in Finland but Finland is still the country responsible for their medical care costs. Such persons include for instance persons who are permanently resident in another EU country and who only receive a pension from Finland.

Not everyone who has a Kela card is entitled to the European Health Insurance Card and not everyone who is entitled to the European Health Insurance Card is entitled to the Kela card. For this reason the cards are separate.

The European Health Insurance Card is used in case of sudden illness while abroad. You cannot use the card if you specifically travel abroad to obtain medical treatment in another country.

Last modified 13/12/2023

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