Home WorldEurope European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is 10 years old – but what is it?

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is 10 years old – but what is it?

by Sharron Livingston
EHIC European Health Insurance Card

The EHIC card is ten years old this year. And if you are wondering what an EHIC is then, according to a recent survey of British travelers by GoCompare, you are part of 13 per cent that are in the dark about the benefits of carrying an EHIC card.

Perhaps even worse is that another 54 per cent put themselves at risk because they think they can use it instead of travel insurance. Not so!

UK travel insurance specialist, Alpha Travel Insurance warn that EHIC does NOT cover all private health care or provide mountain rescue services, flights back to the UK in case of accident, illness, repatriation due to death, planned birth overseas or any planned medical treatment.

An EHIC — European Health Insurance Card — gives you access to state healthcare at cost or sometimes for free within the EU. If you need treatment for a pre-existing medical condition or even routine maternity care, flash your EHIC card to receive the same benefits as the local.

It’s really useful to carry one but important to rembember that what it doesn’t do is pay for repatriation or reimburse medical costs incurred. Only travel insurance can give you that sort of assurance.

Chantelle Dadd from Alpha Travel Insurance commented:

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, it is essential to contact your insurer’s emergency medical helpline prior to receiving medical treatment. They will be able to offer you the best possible advice and assistance in your current situation. Invest in travel insurance alongside your EHIC card and you will have a greater level of cover and added security.

So to recap, the EHIC card offers British citizens the same consumer protection in France for instance, as it does for French citizens and vice versa. But it does not replace travel insurance.

EHIC’s have an expiry date and so it is important to keep an eye before you travel within the EU and renew it. And if you don’t have one, apply for one today. UK readers, go to www.ehic.org.uk


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