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Changes to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is currently free to UK citizens and citizens of EU member states.  The EHIC provides proof of entitlement to emergency health care when travelling within EU member states and Switzerland. It will cover you whether you are travelling for pleasure, business, and education or training purposes.
However the EHIC will be affected by plans that were passed by Euro MPs in January 2011 for new cross-border healthcare legislation, which will allow EU citizens to obtain medical treatment while travelling to other Member states.  Non-hospital treatment should be straightforward, however if a hospital stay over 24-hours is necessary patients will have to obtain approval for payment from a doctor in their home health authority.  The patient will then have to pay for the treatment and claim back the cost from the NHS or health authority of their own country upon their return.
The new arrangement does not come into effect until 2013. In the meantime, travellers should still apply for the free EHIC and carry it with them on their travels.  Please note the EHIC should not be used as a substitute for standard travel insurance or pre existing medical conditions travel insurance.  You can look at our previous blog on travelling to France and Spain as to what the EHIC will and won’t cover in those countries.
One thing that is never covered under the EHIC is repatriation back to the UK be it by private air ambulance or scheduled airline.  When purchasing standard travel insurance or travel insurance with pre existing medical conditions, ensure that you have adequate medical cover, we would recommend that you look for a policy with a minimum of £2million medical and repatriation cover.
Insurancewith medical conditions travel insurance policies for travel to Europe start at £15.83.


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