The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare when travelling to a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland.
The EHIC will give you access to free or reduced costs on local healthcare when travelling in a EEA country. We do know that Brexit will have an effect on the EHIC card but we won’t know for sure what this will be the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union are finalised.
In the meantime, it is still important to take one with you, so why the need for travel insurance?
The EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance and depending on the country you are travelling to it may not cover all of your medical costs and it will also not get you home (repatriation) in an emergency situation.
Travel insurance will cover the costs of cancellation, personal possessions, money, getting you home etc., as well as the extra medical costs that are not covered under the EHIC scheme.
So, as well as purchasing your travel insurance we still highly recommend that you apply for an EHIC card, it’s free!
So, what does EHIC stand for again?
EHIC stands for European Health Insurance Card, and it replaced the old E111.
What was the E111?
The E111 was the first reciprocal health scheme set up by the Common Market, which later became the European Union (EU) as we know it today.
What do you mean by reciprocal?
In the dictionary, reciprocal is defined as “corresponding; matching; complementary; equivalent”.
How does that affect the EHIC?
The EHIC entitles the holder to enjoy the same level of healthcare when travelling within the EU as a resident of that country would receive.
So, I get free treatment?
You will receive free treatment, but only if a local resident would. In some cases, you might have to pay for treatment, but you would pay a local rather than a tourist rate.
So, I don’t need travel insurance then?
Actually, you do! You see whilst the EHIC is very handy, it doesn’t cover all your medical costs; as we have already pointed out it gives you the same free treatment (or reduced cost treatment) that a local would receive.
I get that, so give me an example when travel insurance might help me…
OK, take Greece for example. Nursing care is not provided free of charge to Greek citizens. If you were admitted to hospital in Greece your medical treatment would be free, but you will have to pay around £60 per day if you want a nurse to look after you. – your travel insurance will cover that.
Well, £60 isn’t much, I might only be in there for a couple of days and my policy excess would probably mean that I couldn’t claim anyway…
That’s a good point (although you can buy policies that don’t have an excess) – but what if you were seriously ill or injured and needed to be brought home? Your EHIC wouldn’t cover the cost of getting you home by air ambulance (cost around £20,000 from Greece) or, if you could not use your original flight tickets, by scheduled flights – but travel insurance would.
OK – that could be expensive, but what are the chances that would happen to me?
Well, that’s a gamble you might want to take, but is it really worth it? A good travel insurance policy will probably cost the same as a round of drinks on holiday…why take the risk? And what about the other things travel insurance covers?
Well, there’s Cancellation for a start? If you couldn’t go on holiday because you were suddenly taken ill, or were injured, travel insurance will reimburse you. For a family travelling, the cost of the holiday would probably be over £1,000.
And then there is cover for your personal possessions, gadgets, money and passports – what would you do if they were lost or stolen?
Hmm…the price of a round of drinks you say?
That’s right – it’s a no brainer, really isn’t it?
Exactly, so this is why it is important to have an EHIC and travel insurance. For more information follow on where to get your free EHIC card follow the link https://www.gov.uk/european-health-insurance-card
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