The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is an excellent thing to take with you whenever you travel to another country in the EEA. However, before you apply for your card, there are a few things to be aware of. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there about the card, so make sure you know exactly what is involved before you apply.
You Never Have to Pay for the EHIC
The most important thing to know is that the European Health Insurance Card is completely free. There is no reason why you should ever pay for it, so if you come across a website online offering to arrange it for you in return for a small charge, you’re not in the right place. Unfortunately, a number of misleading websites have emerged that attempt to make money out of people by arranging the EHIC. They are often designed to look like the official website, so don’t be fooled.
The only place you should apply for the EHIC is via the official NHS website. It is very simple to do, and you will not be asked for any money. Check the URL of the website to make sure you are in the right place, and remember that if you are asked to make a payment, the site is definitely not the official one.
The EHIC Is Not Travel Insurance
The other reason to be careful is because the European Health Insurance Card may provide you with a false sense of security. You may assume after applying for your card that you do not have to buy private travel insurance. Of course, buying travel insurance is always your choice and there is no legal requirement to do so. However, it’s important to remember that a private insurance policy is far more comprehensive than the EHIC.
The EHIC covers your healthcare to the same standard that a resident of the country you are visiting will receive, but nothing more. So if you break your arm, you can go to a hospital and receive the same treatment that a resident would receive in that country.
The problem is that this may not be up to the same standard as the NHS. In addition, there may be a charge included. If locals pay for the service, you will have to pay as well. Some things may include a charge, such as dental treatment or prescriptions, and it depends on the country and the rules. It’s also important to remember that the EHIC does not cover repatriation costs back home because it only covers your treatment in the country.
When you have private travel insurance, you will not have to worry about the rules of the country you are in because you will be covered under the terms of your policy.
Get Your EHIC, But Get Insurance Too
The best thing to do is to arrange your European Health Insurance Card as soon as you know you will be travelling, and then arrange your private travel insurance in addition. It is generally considered the best solution to have both in place to ensure you are fully covered on your trip overseas. You may even be able to get benefits from your insurer for having an EHIC. For example, they may discount the excess that you would otherwise have to pay.