One of the most popular questions during pre-departure and on-arrival trainings, coming from volunteers from every possible category is: “How does AXA work?” It is no surprise that everybody is quite concerned about the way their healthcare is covered while staying in a foreign country.
The way they explain the whole AXA-story at the trainings is quite complicated. Sometimes some little relevant details are even missing that can make your life with AXA painful. So, we will just explain the process now in our own way:)
At first: your AXA health insurance is a private insurance. In several countries of Europe this is less common, especially in the new members, where – as a heritage of the socialist era – the national public healthcare system pretty much covers everyone. In other countries however, especially in Western-Europe you can choose between several public and private health insurance companies – the so-called “Krankenkasse” in case of Germany -, which then also determines what kind of care you will receive at the doctor’s. AXA in this sense a pretty wide insurance, it covers several things from simple visits to longer stays at a hospital.
Second: because AXA is a private insurance – “Privatversicherung” in German -, they work on a refund basis. This puts volunteers in a difficult situation, because on principle they’d have to pay for their own bills at the doctor’s, and then claim a refund, which might take some weeks or even a few months to be processed by the insurance company.
Last but not least: There is a possibility to use AXA as a complementary to your otherwise existing public insurance in your home country. In this case you may be advised to take out the European Health Insurance Card at your local healthcare authority before receiving the AXA card. However, we would very much advise against that, because it only duplicates the claim procedure, makes you wait for your money longer and do more paperwork, but probably you won’t get better care.
So this is how AXA works:
You feel sick, you go to the doctor. (Note that you can also go to general examinations if you haven’t been for a while and/or just generally bored at work and want to do something different, AXA in general covers those, too) You check in at the doctor and show them you AXA card, which either your SO or your Host has received and has already given to you. Sometimes doctors do not recognize the card at once, in this case just tell them it’s a private insurance – “Privatversicherung”, remember – and it should be fine.
After you received the necessary examinations and treatments, you can go home and wait for the bill. Remember, doctors are not supposed to take your money in cash without a bills, they – or in most cases their financial management agent – are supposed to send you a bill and you are supposed to bank transfer it. In case of medicines, you should keep a copy or even the original of prescriptions stamped by the doctor and the pharmacy.
In terms of Cash Flow, as we have mentioned, the way AXA works is generally a pain. Doctors may bills you even hundreds of euros using their private insurance prices, which is very difficult to settle even temporarily from an EVS volunteer’s allowance. You may try to contact your host or your coordinator to lend you some money.
After you have all the bills and prescriptions you will have to fill in a claim form. For this, you are supposed to be registered – most likely by your SO, or by the organization which has received and given you your AXA card –at the website www.europeanbenefits.com. Request help from your National Agency on how exactly this registration is to be done! Then, if you are registered, you only have to log in and submit a “Claim”. The system is pretty simple. Then print and sign the claim form, and include all of your bills and prescriptions – don’t forget to copy them before in case they get lost – a post everything to France, to the indicated address of European Benefits (AXA) HQ. Then, after some weeks your money will be refunded by AXA to the account you indicate.
With regards to higher expenses and longer health care interventions as well as accidents, certain other rules apply. For more information, download the Guide about general healthcare conditions concerning EVS from here.