The Department of Health are urging all British tourists travelling in Europe this month to check the expiry date of their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as millions have already expired.
Currently 28 million Britons have an EHIC, however three million expire between September 2008 and March 2009. By the end of October, nearly 1.5 million EHICs will have expired. Anyone travelling with an out-of-date EHIC is putting themselves at risk when travelling in Europe as they will not be covered for basic medical care.
The EHIC, which replaced the E111 form three years ago, entitles you to reduced cost or free state-provided healthcare in most European countries if you fall ill or have an accident whilst abroad, but only if it is in date. Recent research by the Department of Health worryingly revealed that over 52% of Brits were not even aware that the EHIC has a shelf life.
Paul Siddell, Overseas Healthcare Programme Manager at the Department of Health says:
Many Brits are putting themselves at unnecessary risk by not checking their EHIC expiry date. If you’re travelling in Europe it’s vital that you carry an EHIC, as well as comprehensive travel insurance.
If you find your EHIC is out-of-date, it is very easy to renew it online or over the phone and it will be delivered within ten days. Card holders can renew up to six months in advance of expiry so we are urging people to check their EHICs now.
To renew or obtain an EHIC, log on to www.gov.uk/european-health-insurance-card