Thousands of people each year apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to assist them on their travels, but how many travelers actually know what it covers? The EHIC card entitles the card holder to receive medical care as if they were a resident - however, unlike the free medical care in the UK, residents still have to pay for their treatment. Read on to find out more...
How to Apply for an EHIC card
You must be a current UK resident to apply for an EHIC card. There is no cost involved and you can apply here.
Remember! One EHIC card cannot cover multiple people such as family members. Everyone that wishes to be covered under the EHIC will need to apply for their own cards separately.
What Countries are covered with an EHIC?
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland. Any islands that fall under any of these main countries are also covered.
What is Covered?
Each country has individual rules with regards to health care procedures and they can vary greatly. Being in possession of an EHIC card, it will enable you to be medically treated as if you were a resident rather than a visitor. The EHIC card acts as a full or part payment for any medical costs. If part payment, you will have to pay the remainder yourself and claim back at a later date. You may be entitled to a discount on certain prescriptions or free healthcare, but it is important to remember that this is not always the case.
The card covers pregnancy and unexpected birth, however it does not cover planned specific travel to give birth in another country. The card also includes cover for pre-existing medical conditions, but remember it depends on what condition you have and what equipment and treatment you might need. You may not be covered in all circumstances, but you will be entitled to routine care of conditions that need constant monitoring, such as pregnancy or heart related problems.
What isn't Covered?
The EHIC does not cover:
Renewing Your Card
The EHIC card is valid for up to five years, but it is important to check that it will be valid for the entire length of your trip. You can renew an EHIC up to six months before the expiry date and it is free.
Important Things to Remember!
You need to be extra vigilant and careful if you are arranged healthcare by anyone other than yourself. Hotels, resorts or helpful locals might not understand that you will need to be in state care, not private. If you are in the wrong place, you will be left to pick up the bill and the EHIC card won't cover you for reimbursement.
The EHIC is not a travel insurance alternative. Things that are free in the UK, such as ambulances and doctor's appointments are often charged overseas. Some hospitals charge per night as well as a standard fee and for any medication or tests that are needed. If you end up having a serious medical emergency abroad, these costs can add up very quickly in to their thousands and you may be required to pay upfront for them. Invest in travel insurance alongside your EHIC card and you will have a greater level of cover and added security.
If you have to use your EHIC Card in a medical emergency abroad within a state hospital, we will waiver your policy excess to nil.
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