Before a holiday there are a number of things to arrange before you leave. Once flights, transfers, accommodation and hire cars are all in place, people generally know to book travel insurance to cover cancellation and healthcare costs… Surprisingly though, it’s thought that the majority of travelling Brits are not taking advantage of the free European Health Insurance Card.
The EHIC card is available to all UK citizens and entitles holders to free or reduced cost medical care in state-run hospitals in all EU countries, and Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Valid for five years, the card entitles you to same healthcare provision that local citizens can expect to receive. It’s important to note that the card doesn’t guarantee free treatment – if locals get free treatment so do you, but if they pay you do too – but it can be invaluable to have one in emergencies.
The card is available to anyone over sixteen, but if you have children each family member needs one. To get one for your child, include them as a dependant on your application and they’ll receive a separate card. Interestingly, the terms of the card state that you must have the card on your person to be covered by it’s provision, so when you’re abroad always take it out and about with you.
Bear in mind that in some countries you’ll have to pay for treatment upfront and claim the cost back later. And don’t go thinking that having a card is a substitute for travel insurance – it only concerns medical cover at state-run hospitals, which you can’t assume you’ll have convenient access to in all European countries, and EHIC gives no provision for delay, cancellation, repatriation, loss or theft.
To get an EHIC card go to the NHS website, or pick up a form at the Post Office. Be aware that there have recently been some online scams targeting EHIC applicants, with official-looking websites offering ‘reviewing’ or ‘services’ for a fee. The card is free and the application process straight-forward, so don’t be fooled! The Department of Health is working to crack down on these scams.
Happy, safe, and well-organised travels!!!
Category: Travel Information