KELA has offered the card to overseas travellers since 2004. The EU country offering basic medical services to Finnish visitors invoices Finland for the costs involved.
Despite the handy nature of the system, only 370,000 Finns have a valid card at present. Most travellers place faith in private health insurance linked to domestic home policies.
The KELA European Health Card allows Finnish citizens to use the state health care facilities of other EU countries. Luxury treatment such as face lifts and complex dental work is not covered.
A deductable fee similar to the health centre payment in Finland is often levied. For example, a Finnish tourist visiting a state-run clinic in Portugal would have to pay just under four euros for the first visit to a doctor.
Jukka Lumio, Senior Physician at the University Hospital of Tampere says the majority of Finnish travellers do not think of possible health problems before setting out on holiday. In the tropics, he says, visitors should consider the danger of malaria infection while in Europe sexually transmitted diseases are a common problem.