What is a European Health Insurance Card?

And do I need travel insurance if I have one?

A European Health Insurance Card, also known as an EHIC entitles the holder to medical treatment abroad at the same cost a resident of that country would be expected to pay – in the event of an accident or injury. While the card alone can save the bearer a huge amount of money in medical bills – it does have its limitations.

These limitations, in relation to the types of injuries or ailments that can be treated for free or very little, vary from country to country. For example in France visitors are expected to pay £17 to see a GP, but hospital treatment is free; however – if you need an ambulance it must be paid for.

But the real limitations occur when facing the knock on effects of an accident or illness abroad, which can have a huge impact on a bank balance. Whilst medical bills may be covered, being flown back to the UK because you have missed your flight is not.

For this reason, the Government recommends that travellers take out private travel insurance as well as registering for a free European Health Insurance Card. For more information about what a European Health Insurance Card covers please visit the NHS EHIC advice page.

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