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I am a citizen of Poland, living permanently in Brazil. I don't pay any taxes in Poland and I'm not insured there now.

Soon I'll be visiting Poland (and passing shortly in other European countries) for holidays.

Do I need to buy some kind of travel insurance in Brazil or am I covered by Polish / European law by being a citizen, even while not being a resident there? When I lived in Poland I had European Health Insurance Card, but to get it you have to prove you're currently paying taxes there.

I'm only interested in health insurance, nothing travel specific.

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You would not be covered by local health insurance in the EU country you will visit solely on the basis of citizenship. EU-wide coverage is based on reciprocity (if you are insured in one EU country, then you are covered, under certain conditions, during visits to the others) but you need to qualify in the first place and that typically requires being a resident and having the right kind of insurance.

At the same time, you don't “need” to buy health insurance if you don't want to. Purchasing insurance is mandatory for visa holders and, in most places, for residents but as an EU citizen you are allowed to visit without health insurance. That's really up to you.

Don't forget that your regular health insurance, if you have one, might cover emergency healthcare costs abroad. It's different from a proper travel health insurance in that it typically would not cover medical evacuation or the difference between local prices and healthcare costs back home but it would typically cover at least some of the expenses in my experience.

Finally, for completeness' sake, note that there are also bilateral agreement through which countries afford some coverage to citizens from the other country. Those are typically negotiated at the national level (not the EU level) and I am not aware of any with Brazil but such agreements do exist (for example, the NHS has a list for the UK).

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No, you are only covered if you contribute to the health insurance in an EU country. In Poland, this is

The monthly contribution rate for health insurance is 9% of the assessment base. In the case of obligatory participation, the assessment base is equal to the individual's gross income decreased by the employee’s part of social security contributions. In the case of voluntary participation, the assessment base is declared by the insured individual but cannot be lower than the average salary in the enterprise’s sector for the previous quarter as published every quarter. The contribution to health insurance is deducted from the Polish PIT due; however, the deduction is limited to 7.75% of the assessment base.

from http://taxsummaries.pwc.com/ID/Poland-Individual-Other-taxes

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