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How Does Healthcare Differ In Europe?

When travelling across Europe, it is of paramount importance that you understand each respective country’s healthcare, so you know the correct procedure if you were to fall ill or be injured. Almost as crucial as having a renewed ehic card, in this guide we’re going to explain how some country’s healthcare systems differ across Europe to show you just how important it is to understand the country’s healthcare system that you are intending to travel to.


France, like England, has two separate healthcare systems. The first is the Couverture Maladie Universelle (CMU), the state run- equivalent of the NHS and then there is the private sector.

Your EHIC does not cover private healthcare, so to ensure you don’t have to pay full price for any treatment you receive you’ll need to use the CMU, however unlike the NHS it is not completely free to use.

In any case after you pay the practitioner for your respective consultation, you’ll be asked to fill out a treatment form called a feuille de soins, this is so you can receive a refund for the healthcare, which is generally around 70% of the original cost.

To ensure that you receive the correct reimbursement, remember to keep any receipts, forms or paperwork that might be needed as evidence for your insurance company.


Home to Europe’s oldest state governed healthcare system, Germany’s heritage of healthcare dates back as far as the 1880’s.

Citizens have the option to pay into one of around 300 state sickness funds as part of their payroll or directly from their bank accounts, with about 10% of the entire population’s gross earnings being put back into the health care system.

Again your EHIC does not cover any costs incurred as part of private healthcare, so when visiting be sure to use a health care provider from one of the statuary systems mentioned above.

In Germany your EHIC covers the provision of oxygen and routine medical care, however if you require any treatment you’ll be required to book in advance and pay the full price for treatment.

For hospital treatment you will have to pay a fixed rate of €10 a day for a maximum of 28 days in a year.


Sweden probably has the most radically different healthcare system when compared to Germany, France and the UK, due to the fact it is fully government funded and that each of the country’s 21 councils control the health care system in their respective provenance.

This means each local council is responsible for their medical provisions in the area that they govern, meaning that each health care programme across the 21 councils could be totally different. Without a centralised system, Sweden very much resembles the UK before the founding of the NHS in 1974.  

For this reason, not all treatment is free at the point of care, with GP visits costing between  SEK 100 and SEK 300 and specialist hospital appointments between SEK 150 and SEK 350, depending on which county council you living under.


Netherland’s healthcare providers are all private entities, which means that every Dutch resident has to take out some form of health insurance.

Your EHIC covers you for emergency treatment no matter the provider, but depending on if your health provider is contracted to the state health insurer, Zilveren Kruis, you may have to pay for other treatments in advance or make a patient contribution.

Emergency numbers differ in each country, so if while travelling in Holland you find yourself in a serious or life threatening situation you will need to dial 112. Calls are free of charge, however ambulance services are not. It is for this reason that its best to travel to a hospital by car, taxi, bus or tram if possible, to avoid an extra fee.


As you can see, the way healthcare systems operate differs a lot from country to country. That is why it is of vital importance that you thoroughly research the country’s health sector prior to travelling. Happy travelling!