What is an EHIC and why do I need it?
Let me explain…
An EHIC is a European Health Insurance Card. It is a must have for anyone travelling within Europe. With your EHIC card, you should be able to get the same treatment as a resident of the country you're visiting. In some countries you may have to pay a patient contribution, also known as a co-payment. These payments are usually for things such as Doctor or Dentist consultations, prescriptions, or stays in hospital. Since July 1 2014, you can no longer claim back co-payments once you get back to the UK.
If you visit another EEA (European Economic Area) country where that country requires its own citizens to pay a patient contribution, you will also need to pay for this. Again, after July 1 2014 you are no longer able to claim back payments for this.
Your EHIC still entitles you to receive medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, and you will be treated on the same basis as a resident of the country you are visiting.
The EHIC is free to apply for and lasts for five years. You can also apply for an EHIC on behalf of a partner and children under 16 – or if they are still in full-time education. Each member of your family needs their own EHIC to be covered.
The EHIC does not cover all medical care and anyone travelling to Europe with the intention of having specific treatment will often find the card does not cover them. The EHIC can be used to reduce the cost of pre-existing medical conditions, as well as routine maternity care – unless women are heading abroad specifically to give birth in another country.
Anyone who finds themselves in a medical emergency in Europe should call the emergency number 112, which will work in all of the EU/EEA member states.
The EHIC is often considered to be a replacement for travel insurance, this is not the case. There are a number of reasons for this; firstly, that the EHIC does not always cover the full cost of required, which could leave some travellers with a large healthcare bill to take care of. Also, the EHIC does not cover the whole of Europe.
Private medical healthcare and other costs, for example flights back to the UK or mountain rescue from ski resorts, are not covered by the EHIC, so travel insurance should also be secured.
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Date Created: 23/11/2015