Health insurance funds: foreign Lithuanians know but don't use health insurance guarantees


2022 04 11


A survey of the Lithuanian diaspora shows that only a small proportion of foreign Lithuanians are not aware of the possibility to benefit from free essential healthcare services in their home country or to receive reimbursement for expenses incurred during treatment in Lithuanian medical institutions. The largest proportion of respondents were aware of these rights but had never used them.

In a survey conducted by the Vilmorus Centre for Public Opinion and Market Research in December 2021-January 2022, foreign Lithuanians were asked whether they knew that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles persons insured with social security in the European Union (EU) countries to receive free emergency medical care in Lithuania.

The survey showed that only a small proportion of respondents (10%) living in EU countries were not aware of the EHIC, which guarantees insured persons the reimbursement of essential health care during their stay in other EU countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland or the UK. 19% of respondents have used this service, while the remaining 71% are aware but have not used it yet. A similar result was obtained in a similar survey in 2020.

The Health Insurance Fund reminds that foreign Lithuanians who are covered by social insurance in one of the European countries and are planning to visit Lithuania should remember to take their EHIC with them when they leave. It is issued by the insurance institution of the country where the person is covered by social insurance.

Then, when going to a Lithuanian medical facility for emergency care, all a person needs to do is to present his/her identity document and the EHIC at the facility's reception desk or at the hospital's reception area. The costs of the healthcare services provided to the patient on the basis of this card will be paid by the Territorial Health Insurance Fund to the medical facility, using the funds of the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund.

The survey also asked foreign Lithuanians if they knew that if they were covered by social insurance in one of the EU countries, they have the right to apply in that country for reimbursement of the costs of healthcare services received in Lithuania and paid for at their own expense. 24% of respondents said they were not aware of this possibility, while 13% said they had used it. Meanwhile, 62% of the respondents said they were aware of this right but had never used it.

Health insurance funds inform that persons insured in EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway can also receive cross-border healthcare in Lithuania. After paying for these services at their own expense, patients have the right to apply for reimbursement of these costs to the competent body in the country where they are insured. The terms and amount of reimbursement are also determined by this body in accordance with national legislation.

It is worth being aware that European countries have opted for different reimbursement methods for cross-border healthcare. Therefore, if you want to come to Lithuania for these services, you should first check the reimbursement arrangements in the country where you are insured and whether you need prior authorisation for the services you have chosen. The National Contact Point for Cross-Border Health Care in the country where the patient is covered by social (and health) insurance should be able to provide this information. The contact details of these centres can be found here.

The survey was carried out at the order of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The full 2021 Lithuanian Diaspora Survey is available here.

(Piktochart photo)

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