The European Health Insurance Card: What Does it Really Cover Holidaymakers for?
Asda Money looks at the European Health Insurance card (EHIC) and the level of cover it provides for holidaymakers overseas. Brits are struggling to cope with rising living costs but can't give up their holidays. Some 44% of people believe that a holiday and weekend breaks are a lifestyle essential. As a result 23% of people are not willing to cut back on holiday spending1.
This EHIC is a medical card accepted by hospitals and clinics in the European Union as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. In the UK, healthcare is free with the National Health Service (NHS), however, this is not the case in a number of European states. This means that if you have an accident or need medical attention when travelling in mainland Europe, you will have to pay for treatment or services. With the EHIC card, some of those costs are absorbed, but what are you covered for? Benefits of an EHIC This card covers medical treatment you might need if you fall ill or have an accident during your visit to European countries.
It also covers treatment for long-term conditions and existing illnesses. You can have access to state medical care but not private medical treatment with this card. The EHIC card can help holidaymakers when faced with medical expense overseas, but it doesn't replace single trip or holiday travel insurance cover. This is because that the EHIC may not cover specific costs met under travel insurance policies including mountain rescue in ski resorts and the cost of repatriation by air ambulance or commercial airline, with a medical escort. Travel insurance also provides cover for a host of added extras such as luggage loss or cover if your holiday is unexpectedly cut short.
The EHIC was introduced in 2006 and was designed to replace the old E111. This card is valid for five years and can be renewed for free. You can get an EHIC cards free from the official website. It is also important to note, that state run healthcare systems and facilities, in other EU countries, may not be to the standard you are use to in the UK. Waiting lists, poor appointment management and other common issues also exist outside of the NHS.
1. Brits spending on 'lifestyle essentials' increases to £158 billion http://www.lv.com/about-us/press-media/article/brits-lifestyle-spending