european health insurance card

Why Doesn't European Health Insurance Card Mean You are Insured?

21 January 2009

Travel Insurance Tips

What’s the EHIC?

You need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you travel – it gives the holder rights to healthcare that becomes necessary during a temporary visit to EEA (European Economic Area) countries or Switzerland. The EHIC replaced the E111 form in Jan 2006. The E111 form is no longer valid.

Who is entitled to an EHIC?

  • People who are normally resident in the UK can apply for an EHIC;
  • people aged 16 or over.

There may be some restrictions depending on your nationality. Residents of the Channel Islands and the Isle Of Man are NOT eligible. Remember: each person in your group requires a card.

What does the EHIC cover?

If you have an accident or suddenly become ill you’ll receive the necessary state-provided medical healthcare for free or at reduced cost. You’ll be treated on the same terms as insured nationals of the country you’re in. Tip: carry your EHIC with you at all times to prove you are entitled to healthcare.

The EHIC does NOT cover:

  • all your medical costs;
  • private treatment (generally not covered);
  • repatriation to the UK.

Remember: overseas state-provided healthcare may not cover things you receive for free on the NHS.

EHIC does NOT mean you’re insured!

You will still need appropriate insurance to ensure you are fully covered for all eventualities. Remember: few EU countries pay the full cost of medical treatment, even under the European Union’s healthcare arrangements. You still need sufficient travel insurance to cover healthcare costs. Read more information about buying travel insurance. Many people think an EHIC will be enough and don’t take out insurance. They regret this when they have to pay thousands of pounds for an air ambulance back to the UK or pay out for extra accommodation to stay with a sick relative.

Where is the European Health Insurance Card valid?

The EHIC is valid in the European Economic Area and Switzerland. The European Economic Area is made up of all 27 members of the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

How do I get my free EHIC?

  • In UK, apply on the Department of Health or European Health Insurance Card website;
  • phone 0845 606 2030;
  • complete the Department of Health's leaflet Health Advice for Travellers (HAFT) availible in UK Post Offices or by calling 08701 555 455;
  • if you live in another EU country, you should contact the appropriate department.

Read more: Using your EHIC in Spain

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