Since the EU referendum in 2016, there has been a lot of uncertainty about whether free healthcare for British visitors to Europe will continue after the Brexit transition period. end or not.
The free European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) is being phased out, being replaced by the Universal Health Insurance Card (Ghic) – also free. Those who already have Ehics can continue to use them as usual, as both cards entitle holders to free or discounted medical care in EU countries and Switzerland (although terms and conditions apply). tougher conditions for Switzerland). However, check to see if your Ehic is still up to date – millions will expire in 2023. Without an Ehic, you’ll need a Ghic subscription.
A Brief History of Ehic
British travelers have long benefited from free or very low-cost medical treatment in a number of other countries – initially through reciprocal arrangements and then, after the UK joined the then EEC in 1973, with a pan-European agreement.
For decades, the travel document was known as E111 and was available at social security offices.
In 2004, the European Union introduced the Ehic as a card proving the right to medical care on the same basis as locals. It is freely available to EU citizens, including (post-Brexit) those living in the UK.
What exactly has changed since Brexit?
Oddly enough, perhaps: British travelers have lost reciprocity with the three non-EU members – Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein – but not with the EU27 or Switzerland. The UK and the European Union will continue to provide “benefits in kind” to nationals from the other side if those benefits “become medically necessary during their stay.” . In other words: need health care? You’ve got it.
It is important not to equate benefits with possession of a valid European Health Insurance Card. Ehic is simply an easy way to prove that you qualify for treatment.
How do I get one?
Does not apply if you have a valid Ehic.
You can apply for a UK Universal Health Coverage Card (Ghic) on NHS portal formerly used for Ehic . applications or call 0300 330 1350. Free card. Do not use any third party websites: they may charge a fee.
Can I still apply for an Ehic renewal?
You can try and sign up to renew – but you’ll be redirected to a Ghic subscription, as that has now replaced Ehics.
What do I do if I don’t have a valid card?
If necessary, you will still receive the treatment you need to be able to continue your holiday without having to return home for treatment, the EU said.
If you have an existing Ehic, it will continue to be valid until the expiration date. If yours has run out, or you never had, you still have the right to care.
For treatment abroad, you must apply for a provisional replacement certificate (PRC). This is confirmation from the NHS that you have a right to health care.
To get one, you or your companion or family member needs to call NHS Overseas Healthcare on +44 191 218 1999 during business hours (Monday to Friday, 8pm) am – 6 pm).
You must have a National Insurance number and the name of the hospital or other medical facility that is treating you. The certificate will then be emailed (or, oddly, faxed) to the clinicians.
What treatment is covered?
All urgent care, including problems arising from pregnancy – but not if you are abroad to give birth.
In addition, pre-arranged medical treatment for specific conditions – particularly renal dialysis, oxygen therapy, and chemotherapy – remains covered as before.
Note that only EU27 countries and Switzerland are covered – i.e. not Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, which are members of the Schengen Area and not the European Union.
Does the deal cover medical repatriation?
Are not. It just makes accessing medical treatment easier. There is no rule about sending you home for free if you are seriously ill or in a serious accident. Only travel insurance will cover that.
An added benefit of the decision to continue reciprocal healthcare is that travel insurance premiums are unlikely to increase significantly.
Is Ghic an alternative to travel insurance?
Travel insurance offers more benefits in addition to local healthcare, including coverage for trip cancellations, loss or theft and, in extreme cases, medical evacuation . Government warns: “Ehic and Ghic do not replace travel insurance.”
Abta, the travel association, goes even further, warning: “Purchasing travel insurance is crucial when you’re booking a vacation, whether it’s a domestic holiday or a foreign one.”
However, older travelers, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions, may reasonably decide not to insure trips to Ghic-covered locations – if they are willing to. willing to insure against other risks. Note that medical repatriation by air often costs tens of thousands of pounds.