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Medical Care Abroad

Going abroad usually means you are leaving the safe umbrella of the NHS, and medical costs overseas can often be more expensive than we realise. Whilst travel insurance can help us with these high costs after we’ve had an accident or become ill, it also covers costs that the free or subsidised medical treatment you’re entitled to, might not.

EHIC – Europe

If you’re planning on travelling somewhere within the European Economic Area (EEA), including Switzerland, your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows you to get state healthcare subsidised or for free. It will cover any emergency medical attention and medicines which are needed to allowed to continue your stay until you plan to return. It also covers you for the treatment of any pre-existing medical conditions and for routine maternity care, just so long as you’re not going abroad to give birth.

An EHIC renewal or application is entirely free of charge. However, other unofficial websites may charge you if you apply through them.

Apply for a new EHIC card here.

If you’re having difficulties with the online application form, you want to update your personal details or replace a lost or stolen card, call the automated EHIC application service on 0300 3301 350.

Reciprocal Health Care Agreement – RHCA in New Zealand

If you are travelling as a visitor in New Zealand, and seek medical attention, you will be enrolled in this system, any medical treatment you receive will be subsidised by the New Zealand Government’s Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA).

The New Zealand Government has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with Australia, the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia and Norway. Meaning Australian residents can get help with the cost of medical treatment whilst visiting these countries, and residents of these countries can get some essential medical treatments whilst visiting Australia.

If you’re travelling within New Zealand and have to seek medical attention, find a public state hospital and make sure you have proof of UK residence with you, which can be any one of the following:

  • UK passport including the Channel Islands
  • National Health Service Medical Card
  • Certificate issued by the Social Security Committee of Jersey
  • Proof of insurance issued by the Guernsey States Insurance Authority OR other proof of residence in the Baliwick of Guernsey
  • A valid and in-date European Health Insurance Card (EHIC card) bearing the initials ‘UK’

Reciprocal Health Care Agreement – RHCA/Medicare in Australia

Medicare is a publically funded health care system available to citizens and ordinarily resident individuals throughout Australia. If you are travelling as a visitor in Australia, and seek medical attention, you will be enrolled in this system and any medical treatment you receive will be subsidised by the Australian Government’s Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA).

The Australian Government has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with New Zealand, the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia and Norway. Meaning Australian residents can get help with the cost of medical treatment whilst visiting these countries, and residents of these countries can get some essential medical treatments whilst visiting Australia.

If you’re travelling within Australia and have to seek medical attention, find a public state hospital and make sure you have proof of UK residence with you, which can be any one of the following:

  • UK passport including the Channel Islands
  • National Health Service Medical Card
  • Certificate issued by the Social Security Committee of Jersey
  • Proof of insurance issued by the Guernsey States Insurance Authority OR other proof of residence in the Baliwick of Guernsey
  • A valid and in-date European Health Insurance Card (EHIC card) bearing the initials ‘UK’
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