The European Healthcard (EHIC)
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows UK citizens to have access to the same free healthcare that is available to the citizens of the EU country they are visiting. The purpose of the scheme is designed to allow you to continue your holiday in another EU country, without having to rush back home for medical treatment, should you require it. The card only covers you for the standard health care of that country and as a result, is not a replacement for travel insurance.
What is covered?
Although each country’s healthcare system is slightly different, the treatment you receive will generally be the same as received by citizens of that country. Cover includes:
- Any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip from illness or accident. For emergencies, you can dial the European Emergency Number, 112 from any telephone or mobile.
- Access to reduced-cost or free medical treatment from state healthcare providers.
- Treatment of a chronic or pre-existing medical condition that becomes necessary during your visit.
- Routine maternity care (not only because of illness or accident) as long as you are not going to give birth abroad. However, in the case of unexpected births, the card will cover the cost of all medical treatment for mother and the child that is linked to the birth.
- The provision of oxygen and kidney dialysis. You will have to arrange and pre-book these arrangements before you go on holiday. You can ask your GP or hospital for advice, but make sure you are not booked with a private healthcare provider as these are not covered by the EHIC.
What isn't covered?
The EHIC Card is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover private medical healthcare or costs such as mountain/ski resort rescues, repatriation to the UK or lost/stolen property. It is essential, therefore, to have both the EHIC Card AND valid private travel insurance.
TIP: You may be able to reduce the excess on your travel insurance policy if you use your EHIC Card if and when you receive treatment.
How to apply for a card?
The EHIC Card can be obtained by completing the EHIC online application form or by downloading the application form. Alternatively, you can apply by phoning the automated service on 0300 330 1350. The EHIC Card is free of charge. However, there are several unofficial sites that may charge a fee. Click on the link below for the official free online application. https://www.ehic.org.uk/Internet/startApplication.do