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European health insurance card

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If you’re planning a family holiday within Europe then don’t forget to apply for your European Health Insurance Card.  The EHIC replaced the E111 form in 2006 and allows you access to reduced cost or even free state health care for the duration of your trip.  It could end up being essential if a member of your family suffers illness or injury while you’re away so it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry.

Where can you use the European health insurance card?

The EHIC can be used in all countries forming the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes EU member countries as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.  The card is also valid in Switzerland. As you’d expect, different countries have different healthcare systems so don’t assume that a treatment you’d get for free on the NHS will automatically be given by state health providers abroad. Each country has its own guidelines on how to access treatment and how to go about reclaiming the costs so it makes sense to check these out before you travel to ensure you know what to do in an emergency

european health card

What treatments are covered?

As a general rule, the EHIC will cover any medical treatment required as a result of an accident or illness. This includes routine care needed for pre-existing conditions.  As long as you’re not planning to go abroad to give birth, maternity care can also be provided through the EHIC.  If you do end up going into labour early while you’re away, the birth and any further treatment needed by mother or baby, will be covered.

What are you NOT covered for?

The idea behind the EHIC is to cover any medical care that the traveller needs to continue their stay in the country.  This means it cannot be used for treatments that could easily be delayed until returning home.   And if you are visiting a foreign country for the purpose of a medical procedure the EHIC will not be valid for that treatment.

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It’s important to bear in mind that the EHIC does not replace travel insurance, which you will still need to buy.  Things like lost or stolen property, private medical bills, rescue services and the cost of being flown home are not covered by the EHIC so travel insurance is a must.

Where do I apply?

European Health Insurance Cards can be obtained by applying online at www.ehic.org.uk or by calling 0300 330 1350.  Be sure to use the official website as other agencies may charge you a fee. While these agencies may offer services like checking your application, you won’t receive your card any quicker by going through these channels.

travelling with children

Your card doesn’t cover your children so remember to list them as dependents on your application in order to receive a card for each of them.  You can also apply for your spouse’s EHIC but you will have to have a note of his or her National Insurance number to do so.  UK/EEA citizens over the age of 16 are eligible to apply on behalf of themselves and dependent children. People of other nationalities who are ordinarily resident in the UK who require an EHIC should download a form and apply by post, providing proof of entitlement such as a visa.



About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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