Millions of Brits are treated abroad every year for illness or accident occurring whilst on holiday and carrying an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) card means you have access to free or reduced cost emergency care in a State hospital in any of the EU member countries.
In order to be treated you need to present your EHIC card on admission. State Healthcare services offer a wide network throughout the EU, from remote villages to the most popular tourist resorts. There are many advantages to having treatment using the EHIC.
Robert Ince, Managing Director of The Medical Screening Company explains that, in many European countries, State hospitals offer far superior care to private facilities. ‘Many private hospitals abroad don’t, for example, have a specialist paediatric unit. As a parent, this is not something I want to discover when my child is ill and I am in a foreign country. We recommend that all UK citizens traveling to Europe apply for an EHIC card prior to travel.’
State healthcare facilities are regulated by governments and provide care of the highest possible standards. The same level of regulation does not apply to all private medical facilities. Moreover medical staff in State hospitals are regulated and properly trained. Requirements for private hospital staff are not as rigorous.
Ince’s co-director Dr Samy Massoud, an NHS Consultant adds, ‘Whilst some private hospitals have ICUs, these are mainly for postoperative supervision, unlike State hospitals which provide both facilities and expertise for serious ICU cases. The emphasis in many private ‘tourist’ hospitals is on customer relations and home comforts like satellite television. Often this means a compromise on medical expertise. Serious medical cases almost always end up being transferred to State medical facilities.’
The downside of the EHIC is that not all costs are covered, only the hospital care itself. The Medical Screening Company has just launched a new product which neatly fills this gap. Underwritten by Lloyd’s, EHICPlus Travel Insurance is effectively a ‘top-up’ to the EHIC card and covers rescue services to take you to hospital; the cost of getting you home to the UK if you are unable to use your return ticket; emergency medical treatment in a state hospital and hospital benefit towards incidental expenses for each day you spend in hospital.
EHICPlus also provides cover for all ages including the over 65s (there is, in fact, no age limit) and can cover you for up to 4 months (useful for those with holiday homes in Europe).
As Ince says ‘Why pay for Private medical insurance cover at a premium when you can get medical treatment with an EHIC Card and get travel insurance cover for everything else such as cancellation, curtailment, repatriation, baggage and so much more? EHICPlus is a comprehensive policy backed by a respected insurer. Lloyd’s is a name that people can trust.’
Alarmingly, figures released by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office show that up to 65% of people in the over-55 age bracket travel without travel insurance protection, despite needing to make three times as many claims on their travel insurance as younger travelers. (Source: Foreign and Commonwealth Office). This is often because they either cannot afford insurance, or are unable to find an insurer willing to offer cover to older people. EHICPlus now offers a workable solution.
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