Mass confusion ahead of health card changes
From August 1, the yellow Danish health cards will no longer cover health care outside Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
From this date, Danish residents must use the blue EU health insurance cards during temporary stays in EU countries, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland or private health insurance if they travel elsewhere.
What does it mean for me?
According to Mark Bartram, the marketing and communication supervisor at the insurance company Europæiske ERV, the changes have caused a lot of confusion.
“There has been an extreme increase in people calling in,” he said.
“They want to find out ‘what does it mean for me?’ People have definitely been confused.”
As well as enquiries, Europæiske has experienced an increase in sales.
Bartram is critical of how the government has informed people of the new rules.
“There has been a public information campaign about the blue card, but what they’re doing is telling people to remember to bring the blue card. They are not telling you exactly what the blue card covers,” he said.
Katrine Kirch Kirkegaard, of the Health Ministry’s press department, refutes this.
“Since the coverage is different from country to country, the campaign not only tells you to get the blue card if you want to travel, but also urges you to visit the campaign website, www.huskdetblaa.dk," she said.
“The site gathers all information about the changes, and you can read about the public coverage in each country."
New conditions, no helpline
The blue card enables access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare under the same conditions and at the same cost as people insured in that country.
Bartram points out that this means, for example, that public hospitals and doctors might be free but not private hospitals.
“If you are 60 km from a public hospital and are taken to a private hospital, you have to pay for the whole thing yourself,” he explained.
“This could lead to some cases after August 1 of people being taken to a private hospital, for example if they are unconscious, and facing a large bill. Under the old system, this would have been covered by the yellow card scheme. After August 1, the only way to ensure that you’re covered is to get private insurance.”
Another significant change from August 1 is that there won’t be access to the international helpline currently provided by SOS International.
“The blue card has no helpline,” Bartram said.
Warning for non-EU citizens
Non-EU citizens are not able to get the blue card, so as of August 1, non-EU citizens with a yellow card will lose their health insurance cover completely when travelling in other EU countries. The only way to be covered is to purchase private travel insurance.
But Bartram warns that they should pay close attention to the type of policy they choose.
“Some insurance companies have adjusted their coverage so that they only cover things on top of what the blue card covers,” he explained.
“Therefore, those without a blue card should definitely get a travel insurance that covers all of the expenses.”
Bartram clearly sees the changes as a deterioration of the level of publicly-provided travel health insurance Danes have become used to.
“In Denmark we’ve been spoiled because we’re the only ones that have had a system like the yellow card,” he said.
“Now we have to get used to the new reality.”