Travelling can be a stressful and daunting process for anyone. From packing to passports and paperwork, it’s vital to ensure you are as prepared as possible for all areas of your trip, especially when it comes to healthcare in a foreign country.
There’s always a chance that even the most carefully planned holiday could result in accidents and the need to seek emergency care- this can be both unwelcome and extremely expensive.
If you are planning a trip to a European country, the best way to stay protected against any eventuality is to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which will relieve the burden of costly bills at the end of any treatment you may require.
What Is An EHIC?
The European Health Insurance Card (which has replaced the E111 in 2006) will entitle you to treatment for free or at a reduced cost in all European Economic Area (EEA) countries. This includes all 27 countries in the European Union, including Norway, Iceland, France and Liechtenstein.
What Does It Cover You For?
The card entitles you to the same level of medical care given to nationals of the EEA country you are visiting. Some treatment may be free, but for paid treatment you will be expected to pay the same amount as someone living in the country would. In France in particular, you may be expected to pay for a doctor’s consultation initially, with up to 70% of the cost reimbursed at a later date. It’s also worthwhile noting that if you are going abroad for a medical treatment specifically, the EHIC does not cover the corresponding costs.
Who Is Eligible?
The EHIC can be accessed by most UK residents (residents from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not included). If you are a parent, you can apply for a card for children under the age of 16. It is essential that all members of the travelling party have their own EHIC too.
Is Carrying An EHIC Alone, Enough?
An EHIC is essential when travelling in Europe but should always be used in conjunction with your regular travel insurance. It also doesn’t cover you for healthcare anywhere else in the world. An EHIC card holder may not always receive free treatment, which is why it is beneficial to hold travel insurance at the same time. Holding an EHIC will, however, mean you won’t need to pay the excess on any fees.
Applying For Your EHIC
Travellers over the age of 16 can apply for the card on https://www.ehic.co.uk/ for themselves, a spouse and for children. The approximate time for the application to be approved and processed is two weeks, so be sure to apply in good time prior to your travels. Once you have your card, it will be valid for five years, after which you will have to apply for a renewal in the same way.