In a recent survey it was found that awareness of the European Health Insurance Card is very high and many travellers find it to be an essential part of travelling. There were however a few misconceptions about the EHIC scheme and its benefits, along with certain exclusions. The EHIC is insurance cover that allows European citizens access to public healthcare whilst on holiday. The card will ensure the holder will be treated on the same basis as a resident from the country they are visiting. EHIC is very easy to apply for you can either go direct to the NHS website or fill in the form provided on our main page. They really are beneficial to travellers who are staying within Europe. Any medical treatment required in the event of an accident or illness would either be free of charge or at a greatly reduced cost. However, it is important to be aware of exactly which countries are covered by the EHIC and any other exclusions.
EU Versus EEA
What’s great about the EHIC is that it is not just countries within the European Union that are covered. Countries such as Norway, Switzerland and Iceland are all covered in the EHIC scheme. This is because even though they are not members of the EU they are part of the wider European Economic Area. However, any country within Europe that is not yet included in either the EU or the EEA are not covered by EHIC. Therefore, countries such as Turkey, Serbia, Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine are not covered. Anyone travelling to any of these countries will require additional travel insurance that offers good medical coverage in the policy.
On top of those exclusions there are also some smaller nations not included in the EHIC scheme. Some of which may be mistaken for being within the EU. San Marino and the Vatican City, which generally are thought to be part of Italy, are not part of the EU or the EEA meaning your European health insurance card will need be valid there either. Anyone travelling close to the UK to the Channel Islands or The Isle of Man cannot use EHIC here. This is not an issue for UK travellers as the UK has a reciprocal agreement to provide NHS cover with these destinations. Anyone visiting from other parts of the EU will need separate insurance cover.
What the EHIC covers changes from country to country. This is because each country has its own healthcare system and none are like the NHS in the UK. It is important to research the medical system of the country you are visiting before you travel so that you know exactly what you are entitled to. There is plenty of information regarding this on the NHS website. Remember, the EHIC only covers public treatment and not private. Should you require emergency medical care on your holiday, try and show your EHIC at the earliest opportunity and make it clear you wish to be treated by a public GP or in a public hospital. EHIC does not provide cover for any losses, theft or cancellation costs so it is vital you arrange additional travel insurance. A lot of travel insurance companies offer great deals and discounts to customers who own EHIC so shop around for the best policy for you.