A European Health Insurance Card is essential, but it's not enough on its own!
Many tourists think that carrying a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is enough to cover any medical emergency whilst on holiday in Europe. But the European Health Insurance Card should never be used as a replacement for travel insurance as it doesn't provide suitable cover on its own. For one, the EHIC won't cover repatriation back to the UK, which can be a colossal expense.
The EHIC is free to all British nationals and it can be used in the European Economic Area and Switzerland for access to state provided healthcare.
Features of the EHIC
Access to state provided healthcare
Your EHIC entitles you to cheap (and sometimes free) state provided healthcare in the European Economic Area and Switzerland. Remember that healthcare that is normally free on the NHS might not be abroad. It's important to remember that healthcare in other countries will not always be to the same level you would expect from the NHS.
Free to all British nationals
The EHIC is free to all British nationals
Apply for your EHIC online quickly and conveniently at www.ehic.org.uk.
Other means of applying
Apply by calling 0845 606 2030 or by filling out an application form at your local post office.
Just provide your name, address and National Insurance or NHS number.
Your EHIC is valid for up to five years.
Replacement for E111 forms
The EHIC has replaced E111 forms, which are now invalid.
Each traveller should have their own EHIC, including children.
Adults must apply for an EHIC on behalf of children under 16.
The EHIC should not be used as an alternative for travel insurance. The EHIC does not cover repatriation costs or other expenses such as lost baggage or travel delay.
Maternity care and pre existing medical conditions
The EHIC will cover maternity care and symptoms that arise as a result of pre existing medical conditions whilst you are abroad.
Specific treatment abroad
The EHIC will not cover the cost of specific treatment you plan to receive abroad or private healthcare.
Take your EHIC with you
When you are on holiday, carry your EHIC with you as proof of your entitlement to state provided healthcare.
Buy travel insurance to accompany your EHIC
Some Brits have had to face the devastating mistake of carrying a European Health Insurance Card without accompanying it with comprehensive travel insurance. Some have had accidents or severe health problems. Some aspects of their medical treatment were covered by their EHICs, but their repatriation back to the UK was not.
Tourists that require repatriation back to the UK on a specialist flight will be covered by their travel insurance, but it will not be covered by an EHIC. Special air carriers that provide stabilisers or specialist medical equipment can cost thousands of pounds.
Some British travellers have been stranded in Europe after sustaining severe injuries or illnesses, all because they thought their EHIC would be enough to cover all their expenses. Don't get caught out. Buy comprehensive travel insurance to accompany your EHIC to ensure you have full cover. Travel insurance is also necessary to cover the cost of lost or stolen baggage, cancellation and travel delay.