The European Health Insurance Card has been in operation since June 2004. It is now the only healthcare entitlement document carried by British tourists abroad. It is issued free to all UK citizens and it should be taken on every overseas holiday. It is the only thing that will allow you to receive free or heavily subsidised hospital treatment if you have an accident or fall ill whilst abroad. As you can imagine – it’s very important that you not only have one, but that it’s valid and on your person at all times whilst on holiday.
The EHIC system is a very clever one and one that has saved countless people from astronomical health care bills on their return home. According to the Which? guide to the EHIC, it is valid in almost all European countries, plus overseas departments such as Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana. It covers everything that would usually be free for citizens of that particular country. Therefore, it will cover a similar range of treatments to the NHS but not the policies will not be exactly the same. Whether or not you have to pay for a certain treatment will depend on whether legal citizens of the country in which you are staying would usually have to pay for it too.
It’s a little tricky and a little confusing in places – it can be difficult to know exactly what it is that you and your family are covered for whilst holidaying abroad. For example, an EHIC is not a suitable replacement for travel insurance. You do need both when staying overseas, points out the Telegraph.
What Does An EHIC Cover?
A European Health Insurance Card will cover all treatments that are usually free to legal citizens of the country in which you are staying. The health care system is very different in all countries, so it’s a good idea to read up on the one that’s relevant to you, before you go on holiday. Some countries will include the cost of emergency dental treatment if you carry an EHIC – only some countries though, not all of them.
What Does An EHIC NOT Cover?
Even if you have an EHIC, you cannot request private treatment unless you’re prepared to pay for it yourself, say experts at the Association of British Insurers. Also, carrying an EHIC does not automatically guarantee you to free care – you will only receive what legal citizens would receive. If you do have to pay for any emergency treatments, you should get a heavily subsidised bill. Only valid travel insurance will pay for emergency travel back to the UK, cover private hospital treatment, replace stolen or lost possessions and cover cancellations due to illness or injury. You must have travel insurance even if you carry an EHIC – it cannot be stressed enough. Most travel insurers will actually waive your excess if you use an EHIC, so carrying both can and will save you money.
How Do I Get An EHIC?
If you have not yet applied for your EHIC, you can do it for free online. Just visit www.ehic.org.ukand fill out an application form. Your card is only valid for five years – it does need updating after that.
How Do I Use My EHIC?
It’s simple. If you are taken seriously ill or are injured whilst on holiday, you must go straight to a public health facility. Show your EHIC card at the reception desk on arrival and the hospital staff should do the rest. If for any reason you don’t have your EHIC with you at the time – you can call +44 191 218 1999 and ask for an emergency replacement to be sent to your place of treatment. If you ever run into any trouble when trying to use your card, contact your travel insurance provider immediately. They will help you resolve the situation. Remember – if you’re in Europe, chances are you’re absolutely in the right.
Author Bio:- Rose is training to become a GP and is currently researching European health care. She recommends Worldwide Insure for anybody looking to buy high quality, affordable travel insurance. Rose can be found online sharing health advice for anyone thinking about travelling.