A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to state-provided medical treatment if you fall ill or have an accident in any EU country, or in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, where the scheme also applies. The UK has issued some 27 million EHIC cards.
So what happens to EHIC cards after Brexit?
While the UK will leave the EU this Friday, Britain will spend the remainder of 2020 in a Brexit transition period.
This is to allow time for the UK and EU to negotiate their future relationship.
While this transition period is underway, the UK will remain, for all intents and purposes, an EU member, and no changes to the EHIC card will be implemented.
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However, what happens from the beginning of 2021 remains to be seen.
While continuing with the EHIC scheme for UK passport holders has been suggested, the exact future of the cards is yet to be determined.
The Government said: “If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, your EHIC might not be valid anymore.”
According to the BBC, the Government is “seeking agreements with countries on health care arrangements for UK nationals”.
Currently, Spain and Belgium are offering UK tourists medical care, providing the UK offers the same for their citizens.
For UK citizens visiting or living in Ireland, healthcare provisions will not change, regardless if there is a deal or not.
The Government’s advice, for now, is to “buy travel insurance that comes with healthcare cover before you travel”.
You can check the guidance for the country you’re travelling to HERE.
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The NHS advice is to be sure to have both travel instance and your EHIC card.
The advice states: “The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both when you travel abroad.”
What does the EHIC cover?
The EHIC covers medically necessary state-provided healthcare at a reduced cost or, in many cases, free of charge, until your planned return home.
This includes treatment of a chronic or pre-existing medical condition that becomes necessary during your visit.
It also includes routine maternity care, as long as you’re not going abroad to give birth.
But if the birth happens unexpectedly, the EHIC will cover the cost of all medical treatment linked to the birth for mother and baby.
The EHIC covers the provision of oxygen and kidney dialysis, although you’ll have to arrange and pre-book these treatments before you go on holiday. You can ask a GP or hospital for advice.
You need to make sure you’re not booked with a private healthcare provider, as these aren’t covered.
The EHIC also covers routine medical care for people with pre-existing conditions that need monitoring.
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