Is the EHIC enough when travelling to Europe on holiday?
With the excitement of going on holiday, picking exciting destinations and choosing between hotels, sometimes it is all too easy to overlook the importance of travel insurance especially when travelling to European destinations.
While there is some protection afforded by the European Health Insurance Card, also known as the EHIC, which replaced the E111 form, it doesn't always give you the protection you may need when going on holiday.
The EHIC is free to anyone who is a resident of a European Economic Area (EEA) country and Switzerland, so don't be fooled by websites charging a fee for it. However, inclusion in the scheme is not automatic and you will need
to apply for it. The NHS website lets you apply on the phone by calling 0300 3301350 or online here:
Something to remember is that the EHIC does have an expiry date; they last for 5 years, so if it has been a while since you got yours, check to see it is still valid for the dates that you are travelling. An EHIC can be renewed up to 6 months before the old one expires.
Remember the EHIC is only valid within EEA countries and Switzerland; it will not cover you for any emergency medical treatment outside this area, unlike some 5% of people who thought you could use it outside of the EEA. Obviously a travel insurance policy like Able2Travel is valid for whatever area you have purchased it for.
Another misconception is that it means that all medical treatment is free. The EHIC means simply you will receive medical treatment the same as a local resident of that country would, therefore if a local would have to pay for
treatment or prescriptions then so will you. Under the EHIC you are only able to use it in government or state-run hospitals. If you have a visit from a private doctor or end up in a private clinic or hospital an EHIC will not
cover you, meaning you are 100% responsible for the costs of medical treatment incurred. This is unlike travel insurance which, providing your claim was valid; would pay your medical expenses. The NHS has created a useful
country by country guide for what is covered by the EHIC in your specific European destination.
The importance of travel insurance and why it offers more complete cover than the EHIC only really hits home when there are tragic cases where people are injured or become ill overseas and are faced with huge medical bills. One of the key things not covered by the EHIC is medical repatriation. This is where someone is brought back to the UK to receive treatment under the NHS. This is can be extremely expensive, in the tens of thousands of pounds, if there is the need for an air ambulance or a doctor escort from Spain for example. Likewise it does not cover the cost of bringing back the mortal remains of someone who unfortunately passes away overseas, leaving their grieving family to pick up the bill.
We hope you enjoy your travels this summer and that you have appropriate medical cover in place for whichever country you are travelling to. Call Able2Travel today on 01892 839 501 to protect your trip or submit a call back request at: www.able2travel.com
~ Happy travels from the Able2Travel team.