Travel Health Care in Europe vs. in America

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With summer fast approaching, it’s likely that your thoughts are turning to where to go on holiday. For some people, health care is a priority when they go away and knowing what you have access to and how to access it can be vital. We’ve compared travel health care in Europe with America.



In Europe, everyone has access to an EHIC card. This gives you cover to receive medical treatment while you are travelling through Europe. The full list of countries which provide this service is listed online. The application process is simple and can be completed online. Although this card does grant you access to health care at a lower price it doesn’t always cover the cost of treatment. This means you still need to have comprehensive health insurance to be covered.

Pharmacies are the first point of call for people with minor illness and injuries. A pharmacy will provide you with free advice and medication. Throughout Europe, these are easily recognised by a green flashing ‘+’ sign and large cities will usually have 24-hour service available.

In general, medical treatment in Europe is efficient and high quality. You will be able to find an English speaking doctor without much difficulty and there are plenty of people available to help. In an emergency, most European countries have an 112 number to call for an ambulance.

Routine vaccinations are usually all that is required to travel in Europe if you are already in a European country. Travellers from elsewhere in the world should check with their GP, as should anyone who is unsure if their vaccinations are up to date.


Health care in America can be expensive and there aren’t any discounts for travellers. Sometimes travellers may be asked to put down a deposit at a hospital or clinic before treatment but don’t pay anything until you’ve spoken to your insurance company.  Insurance for health care is essential and it is also important to make sure you do have accessible funds in case treatment is needed.

Emergency health care in America is similar to Europe but you need to call 911 for an ambulance. Again, contact your insurance company as soon as you are admitted to a hospital to avoid an expensive bill.

Some countries in America may require vaccinations. Book an appointment with your GP at least a month before your trip to check whether this applies to you.

Just like in Europe, pharmacies are available to advise and provide medication for minor ailments. Travellers without insurance should be wary as even a consultation can come at a price.

Travelling with certain medications are not permitted in the US. In general, it is permitted for travellers to bring no more than 90 days’ worth of medication, for personal use. Usually, this must be labelled with the prescription. You should research online or contact the FDA to find out whether your medication is allowed and if there are any precautions you should take.

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