An EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card) can provide you with help with medical costs if you get ill or injured in an EU country, but there are certain changes which could come into place when Britain leaves the EU.
What is an EHIC card?
Ehic.co.uk explains that “the EHIC card renewal is designed to provide the holder with cover for medical treatments while visiting EU countries.
“The treatment is provided on the same terms as those who are a resident of the particular country, at a reduced rate or even free of charge.”
The Ehic.co.uk website adds, “Although it is essentially an EU health card, it can also be used in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway.”
However, Brexit may result in changes or restrictions to the use of the EHIC card.
Can I still use my EHIC card after Brexit?
Gov.uk explains that it’s important to always get “appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you go abroad,” adding that “After Brexit your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card may not be valid.
“It’s particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
“This is because the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies do not.”
The NHS website adds, “You should prepare for possible changes to your access to healthcare when the UK leaves the EU if you’re a UK national travelling to the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.
“If you’re planning to visit after the UK leaves the EU, you should continue to buy travel insurance.”
“The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) may not be valid if there’s a no-deal Brexit. This will depend on arrangements with individual countries and might mean you need to pay for treatment in full.”
The government has asked all 31 countries to keep EHIC cards in use until 31 December 2020, no matter what happens with Brexit.
However, only three have agreed to cover UK tourists if there’s no deal.
Although the government has made it clear that it wants EHIC to continue, deal or no deal, so far, only Spain has agreed to this.
Portugal has said that it won’t carry on with the scheme if there is a no-deal Brexit, but it has passed a law saying that for now, UK tourists can still get healthcare the same as before, if they show their passport.
There is also a similar agreement with Ireland.
What if my trip or treatment started before Brexit?
The NHS explains that “if you’re using an EHIC issued by the UK, this will still be valid until the UK leaves the EU.
“If your trip or treatment started before Brexit and you’re being asked to pay for healthcare coverage after Brexit, the UK can help.
“To organise a payment, you’ll need to give your healthcare provider’s details to the NHS Business Services Authority’s Overseas Healthcare Services.”
You can call the NHS Business Services Authority on: +44 (0)191 218 1999 for more information.
Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm and Saturday 9am to 3pm (UK time).
This article was originally published on our sister site, Yorkshire Evening Post.