EHIC card, what’s that you may ask? A health emergency might be the last thing on your mind when you’re heading off on a wellbeing retreat abroad.
But we all know it’s good to be prepared. And, if you’re a British or other EU national travelling in Europe, there’s an easy way to stave off costly medical bills.
Four letters for you: EHIC. Since 2004, the European Health Insurance Card and its predecessor, the E111, have helped tourists from the EU and several other nations receive state healthcare free of charge or at a reduced cost in each of these countries. It’s quick and easy to apply, and it doesn’t cost you anything.
It’s a great tool for accessing local medical services, as I found out on a trip to The Netherlands. A cycling accident left me with a broken shoulder and an eye-watering bill for over €800, to cover ambulance time, x-rays and a doctor consultation. My EHIC card proved I was entitled to the care I’d received. I didn’t pay a single cent.
A quick run through…
…what the EHIC card is:
- proof you’re entitled to treatment that allows you to continue your holiday until it’s time to go home. Care for pre-existing conditions is also covered.
- available to EU nationals aged 16 or over, and citizens of a few other European countries. Get EHICs for your young ones by including them as dependents in your application.
- free and easy to apply Any charge for an EHIC card is a scam.
- potentially helpful in getting the excess on your travel insurance (medical) claim waived, so keep any bills and receipts.
…and what the EHIC card isn’t:
- a substitute for a travel insurance. Make sure you have good medical cover alongside EHIC.
- a guarantee you won’t have to pay – if locals do, so do you.
- no repatriation costs covered and additional charges for hospital stay, etc, may apply.
- private healthcare costs not refundable, so pick a state-run healthcare provider to benefit.
- not accepted in Monaco, San Marino, The Channel Islands, The Vatican and The Isle of Man.
Though this might seem obvious, remember to take your EHIC card with you when you set off to a European retreat, or you may be billed privately in a medical emergency. When it expires, renew it. Look after your EHIC card, and it will look after you.