Free EHIC card – cheap healthcare in Europe

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:
…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.

Sources: MoneySuperMarket, NHS Choices

By Denny

  • Posted in Retreat Travel Tips
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