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The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Patient with a broken armAre you heading to Europe? Well, getting a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you set off is a good start. Travellers with an EHIC are entitled to reduced-cost (and occasionally free) medical treatment in numerous European countries.

It is no longer possible to obtain an E111, which was phased out between 2004-5, and replaced by the EHIC.

First-line protection

In participating countries, the card carrier is granted access to state-provided treatment. However, it’s best not to assume that all countries will have the same breadth of medical treatment provided by the NHS. To this end, various types of care may still require payment in return.

As such, the EHIC shouldn’t really be used as a replacement for private medical cover – but should instead be viewed as first-line protection. To save you from the possibility of having to shell out for treatment in the event of illness or injury, it’s always prudent to take out some degree of medical cover. This should apply regardless of which country is being visited.

To apply for your free EHIC, or to find out more information, you can follow this link to visit the Department of Health’s website.

Alternatively, if you head down to your friendly neighbourhood Post Office then you can pick up the ‘T7’ leaflet, which has plenty of information about the various health care agreements between countries. It is also accompanied by an application form for the European Health Insurance Card. So that the card reaches you in time, it’s best to submit the form about six weeks before you plan to head off on your travels.