EHIC European Health Insurance Card

Most holiday-makers return from their breaks without incident. However, accidents do happen and when it does so in an EU country, those carrying an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) can expect free or reduced treatment.

The EHIC entitles European Union (EU) citizens to free healthcare in public hospitals. It is intended to give foreign visitors the same level of care in emergencies as the locals receive.

Yet some Spanish hospitals are rejecting the card, telling tourists from the EU to reclaim the cost of treatment from their travel insurance.

The BBC has reported that a British holiday-maker went to hospital severely dehydrated, but was asked to show his travel insurance details.

The Commission accepts that cash-strapped hospitals are not using this as a money-spinner, but more a case of stopping illegal applications.

Nevertheless, the Commission has received several hundred complaints from tourists in Spain and has unveiled incidents where the cost of much higher private treatment is being passed on to the travel insurers “or, increasingly, is being billed to the citizens directly”.

If the Commission finds that the there has been an infringement of EU law, then the Spanish government could be fined.

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