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Half of British travellers don’t have a valid EHIC card

People who plan on travelling abroad this year are required to have their own European Health Insurance Card (or EHIC for short). However, over 50% of people in the UK don’t have one and in the last year almost 5.3m expired. So what exactly is an EHIC?

070716ehic1An EHIC is a card which provides holiday goers access to state provided healthcare when they are in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland on temporary stay and is the replacement for the old E111. The old E111 was the paper-based format method prior to 2006. The card enables the holder to access treatment in the same manner as a resident of the same country and provides cover for the treatment until they return home. So for example a UK tourist, on holiday in Germany for two weeks, will have access to the same state provided healthcare as a German citizen for the duration of their two weeks on holiday before they return to the United Kingdom.

The Actual Card

The EHIC is a small blue coloured card with the following details present on the front of the card:

-Date of Birth
-Personal Identification Numbers
-Expiry Date

What Treatments Does the EHIC Cover?

Unfortunately, there are times when holiday goers will be required to access medical treatment while abroad. The EHIC covers all medically necessary treatment, when staying in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, until the end of the card holder’s stay in the country.

Pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care are also covered by the EHIC although it is advised that you specifically research the country you plan to visit as cover is different country by country.

Many people ask if the EHIC can be used as an alternative to travel insurance. The answer to this is no it cannot. Please note that the EHIC also does not provide cover for private medical healthcare and costs, travelling expenses back to the United Kingdom and lost or stolen property. However, it is still advisable to carry a valid EHIC while on holiday as the benefits that the EHIC has to offer far outweigh the cons.

How Much Will Treatment Cost with an EHIC?

In many cases, treatment is available for free with the EHIC. However, in countries where residents are required to pay a co-payment charge for using their healthcare system, an EHIC holder would be expected to contribute the same percentage. 070716ehic2An EHIC can potentially save holiday goers thousands of pounds. For example, figures from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office show that broken leg surgery can cost over £6000.

How Do You Apply for an EHIC?

You can apply for an EHIC online. By applying online, you can submit an application to be verified and approved. Each application can be made for two adults (the main applicant and a partner) and up to four children. Upon confirmation of approval, each applicant receives an EHIC card by post in up to ten working days. All EHICs are valid for five years.

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