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EHIC (European health insurance card) Advice 2019

Your access to healthcare when visiting a county in the EU is likely to change if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29th March 2019.
If you plan to visit an EU country on or after 29th March, you should continue to buy travel insurance to ensure you have access to healthcare treatment, just as you would if you were visiting a non-EU country. 
All EHIC’s issued by the UK will still be valid until 29th March 2019.

What is the EHIC?

The European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC for short, entitles EU citizens to medical treatment, either free or at the standard cost for nationals, in all EU member countries.EHIC what is covered

What is covered by the EHIC?

Every country’s health system varies, some countries may not include all the things you would expect to be free of charge by the NHS. This means that you might have to contribute to your care as a patient in another country. For more information, go to county-by-country guide.
The EHIC gives you the right to access healthcare provided by the state on temporary stays at a reduced cost, or in many cases, free of charge. This includes treatment of chronic or pre-existing medical conditions that becomes necessary during your visit.
Routine maternity care is also included (not only because of illness or accident), as long as you’re not travelling abroad to give birth. However, if the birth happens unexpectedly, the EHIC will cover the cost of medical treatment for mother and baby.
The provision of oxygen and kidney dialysis is also covered by the EHIC, although you will have to arrange and pre-book these treatments before you travel. Ask your GP or hospital for advice, but ensure you’re not booked with a private healthcare provider – as these are not covered by the EHIC.
The EHIC also covers routine medical care for those with pre-existing conditions that need monitoring.

What is NOT covered by the EHIC?

It is important to know that the EHIC is NOT an alternative to travel insurance. There will be no cover for private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, treatment on cruises or lost or stolen property. Therefore, it is important to have BOTH an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy. Some insurers will insist you hold an EHIC, and many will waive the excess if you have one.
The EHIC will not cover your medical expenses if you are travelling abroad specifically to have treatment (including giving birth). Follow the link for more information on planned treatment abroad.
You may not be able to use the card in some parts of the EEA, as state-provided healthcare may not be available.


What will happen if there is no deal?

If the UK leaves with no deal, the EHIC will no longer be valid. For more information and advice, the UK government have issued detailed advice on health care when travelling abroad.
As mentioned, the advice for those travelling on or after 29th March 2019 to EU countries as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, is to buy travel insurance to cover health care "just as you would if visiting a non-EU country".
The government says it is "seeking agreements with countries on health care arrangements for UK nationals after 29th March", however, there are no such agreements in place with any of the countries yet. The information will be updated if the circumstances change.

What happens if there is a deal?

It has been agreed between the UK and the EU that there should be a transition period between 29th March 2019 and 31st December 2020 to allow more time for negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship.
During this period, all EU law would continue to apply in the UK. That would mean that citizens would have exactly the same rights and guarantees as before – so, you would still be able to use your EHIC.


How to apply for the EHIC

You can apply for or renew an EHIC using the official EHIC online application form. This is free of charge. Beware of unofficial websites, which may charge if you apply through them.
  • BBC, (2019). Will the EHIC be valid after Brexit?
  • MoneySuperMarket (2019). Everything you need to know about European Health Insurance Cards.‚Äč
  • NHS UK, (2019). Apply for a free EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).

This article was posted on 04-03-2019