Keep this in mind when you travel to a business trip or a conference in the EU

Kornélia Mitrik
All employees going on a business trip or conference within the EU is required to have properly documented health insurance, as in case of an emergency treatment it is essential to present the ‘A1’ document at the hospital or health care facility. In the absence of a certificate, the sending company risks heavy costs.
Although rules protecting the interests of workers on business travel have been in force in the EU and associated countries since 2004, many businesses are still not aware that the absence of an 'A1' document certifying health care coverage could put a heavy burden on the sending company.

The ‘A1’ document, replacing the former 'E101' document, is issued by the national health insurance fund to the employee representing the given group when he is sent to work as expatriate in another Member State for a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of two years. For example, if the employee suffers a medical complaint that requires urgent care, this document certifies that the person is covered by the sending company in the sending country's health system. Otherwise the company would have to pay social security contributions at the place of work.

According to the latest interpretation of these rules, the ‘A1’ document should be required not only for longer-term work, but in principle for all business trips as well, to prove the existence of a Hungarian insurance relationship, if necessary. Conferences and business trips are part of the concept of parallel work, so in these cases the availability of an ‘A1’ document is also required. In case of parallel work, the document may be requested for a period of 24 months.

Billing of the full cost of a hospital treatment may place a heavy financial burden on the sending company, so the relevant department of the company must ensure that the employee is not only insured but can also provide evidence of that for the given institution. However, the existence of a certificate can also be of great importance if the host State authority carries out an on-site inspection of the host company and in that context examines the insurance status of those present. The cost of some hospital treatments can be as high as hundreds of thousands of forints - in extreme cases even millions - and therefore it is a particularly important documentation procedure. It is also important to be aware that travel insurance is not the same as the ‘A1’ document.

According to 2017 statistics, more than eighty thousand Hungarian workers and a total of more than two and a half million EU citizens are sent to work as expatriates to other EU Member States, representing 1.15% of the active population. 55% of the expatriate Hungarian workers work in Germany, nearly a third in Austria and less than a tenth in the Netherlands. These figures are still just a fraction of the number of business travelers, which entails an increased number of claims.