Healthcare insurance in Europe varies from one country to another. Generally speaking, healthcare across Europe mainly consists of privately-owned insurers, which are strictly regulated by each countries’ government. Also, many of these governments try to provide subsidies to vulnerable individuals unable to afford healthcare insurance coverage. Each country has a different set of regulations on how healthcare insurance works.
European Health Insurance Card
Within the European Union (EU) countries, each citizen has a European Health Insurance Card that provides access to state healthcare services in the event of a short-term residence across any state of the EU. However, there are three things to note about the European Health Insurance Card. These are:
- Possession of the insurance card does not replace the need for a travel healthcare insurance policy. Therefore, the EU insurance card does not provide coverage for private healthcare needs.
- It does not provide coverage for medical tourism.
- Not all services received would be free, as each country has different policies and regulations.
An individual is eligible for the European Health Insurance Card if they own a healthcare insurance policy within their EU country of residence. This card provides owners access to doctors, dentists, hospital treatments, prescriptions, and more within the EU states.
Health Insurance Across Some Countries
The United Kingdom (UK) consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Each country has a version of the National Health Service (NHS), which provides citizens and permanent residents access to public healthcare. The NHS is funded through taxes collected from the people of each country. In England, the healthcare service is referred to as the NHS. Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales refer to their healthcare services as NHS Scotland, Health and Social Care, and NHS Wales, respectively.
Each of the four services in each country gives comprehensive schemes, which provide free healthcare services. However, eye care and dental care services are not included in the free treatment program of health services. Also, particularly in England, residences are required to pay for the majority of prescription medication they purchase with a few exceptions. Additionally, private healthcare providers can operate and provide services to individuals that can afford their services.
Apart from consultation, the NHS across all four countries provides a broad range of free healthcare services, including mental health, surgery, and more. However, services such as surgery usually follow the first-come, first-serve approach. Only in extreme medical emergencies are patients prioritized.
After Brexit, the UK would eventually not participate in the European Health Insurance Card program. Soon, travelers from the UK would have to look for alternative healthcare insurance while traveling in the EU.
The German healthcare service is one of the oldest in the world. The scheme is based on the Social Health Insurance system. Private physicians provide outpatient services, while nonprofit healthcare service providers provide most of the inpatient healthcare.
All employers in the country pay half of the healthcare insurance of their staff while the employees pay for the other half. However, freelancers are responsible for 100% of their insurance contributions. The majority of the residence of the country receive healthcare insurance coverage through the country’s Statutory Health Insurance system.
This system provides standardized healthcare coverage to each resident within Germany through the Sickness Funds. The smaller percentage of the population of residence that is not covered through this program requires private healthcare insurance. Each resident contributes to the private insurance system based on their age and medical condition.
The French healthcare system is considered as one of the best in the world. The government mostly funds it through the National Health Insurance system. The government generally provides coverage for about 70% of general medical practice care. Depending on the prescription drug an individual requires, the scheme can provide complete coverage or partial coverage that is as low as 35%.
Most French doctors operate private clinics that source income from the government-managed insurance trust. The government is entirely responsible for the management of the insurance trust and fixes premiums, copays, and refund rates. Refund rates for healthcare services are usually at 70%. However, it can get up to 100% in certain exceptional cases.
The Universal Health Care scheme provides healthcare services to the residence of Spain. Residence receives free healthcare services in general, and copayments are paid through the Social Security allocation except in some circumstances. Also, the scheme does not cover dental care for adults.
Although Russia is not part of the EU, it is still considered as part of Europe. The Russian constitution mandates that each Russian gets access to state medical assistance and healthcare free without any charge. The compulsory medical insurance system is responsible for healthcare services in Russia. Government subsidies and taxes from companies fund the system.
All across Europe, different types of healthcare schemes are offered to people. These schemes range from government-owned, private systems, and in-betweens. Each program has its advantages and disadvantages.