Now more than ever, if you plan to travel within the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland and you are a UK citizen, you should ensure you travel with an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) to cover your travels whilst the UK remains in the EU.
Your card will remain valid until the UK leaves the EU on 31st December 2020.
WHAT IS AN EHIC CARD?
The EHIC card is free to obtain and allows you the right to access state-provided healthcare during your trip. Remember it is not a replacement for travel insurance. It allows Brits access to free or reduced cost healthcare. Private healthcare is not covered under the EHIC card, so check before you visit that you are not visiting a private hospital or clinic as all fees will be payable.
If you need to take out insurance, you can get a quote from easyJet (which is provided from Zurich) and Alpha Travel Insurance (who are currently offering an additional 3 months cover). This combined with the EHIC card will make sure you are fully covered whilst you are away and be one less thing to worry about.
WHAT IS COVERED WITH THE EHIC CARD?
An EHIC card includes access to treatment for a pre-existing illness that requires emergency attention whilst you are away.
If you require dialysis or oxygen, this is available though will be required to have been booked prior to your departure. Please contact your GP or hospital for advice in organising your care.
The card also gives women access to maternity care, so long as you are not specifically travelling overseas to give birth.
WHAT IS NOT COVERED?
- Search and rescue
- Planned birth abroad
- Planned medical treatments abroad
- It is not valid on cruises
- You will not be covered for return flights to the UK should they be needed
It is worth noting that in some countries all patients are required to pay a small contribution fee towards their healthcare. What this means is you will pay the same fee a resident of that country pays. You can check what fees apply in each country on the NHS website
WHAT EU COUNTRIES DO NOT ACCEPT THE EHIC CARD?
The following European countries do not accept the EHIC:
- the Channel Islands, including Guernsey, Alderney and Sark
- the Isle of Man
- San Marino
- the Vatican
HOW TO APPLY
Cards usually take 10 working days to arrive, though allow longer before you travel to ensure you have it in good time. With Covid-19, those applying or renewing passports are experiencing long wait times.
WILL YOUR CARD BE VALID AFTER 31ST DECEMBER 2020?
You will be able to continue accessing healthcare through EHIC for visits that begin after 1 January 2021 if fall in to one of the below categories:
- a UK state pensioner living in the EU before 31 December 2020
- a UK student studying in the EU before 31 December 2020
- a ‘frontier worker’ (someone who works in one state and lives in another) before 31 December 2020, for as long as you continue to be a frontier worker in the host state
- an EU national living in the UK before 31 December 2020