What has the European Health Insurance Card been replaced by?

Now we have left the European Union, what has the European Health Insurance Card been replaced by and how do I get one?

In a new series, we answer YOUR burning money questions… 

I used to have an EHIC in case I needed medical help when on holiday in Europe. Now we have left the European Union, what has the EHIC been replaced by and how do I get one? SW, Lincolnshire

Ruth Jackson-Kirby replies: The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) afforded British travellers free medical treatment when travelling in Europe. Since January last year, British citizens can no longer apply for one. 

All change: The European Health Insurance Card has been replaced by the Global Health Insurance Card

The good news is that the EHIC has been replaced by the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). And if you still have an EHIC you can use it until it expires. 

The GHIC entitles you to the same free treatment that locals receive in state-run hospitals and GP surgeries in Europe. 

You should get free emergency treatment and care in an accident and emergency department in most countries. You also won’t usually have to pay for treatment for pre-existing medical conditions and maternity care – unless you have gone abroad to give birth. If needed, you should also get free oxygen and kidney dialysis in most places. 

However, state healthcare is not free in all European countries, so there is no guarantee a GHIC will get you the treatment you need for free. Ceri McMillan, travel insurance spokesperson for comparison website Go Compare, says: ‘Many countries don’t have a free healthcare service as we do in the UK. If private healthcare is your only option, a GHIC will not cover this.’ 

You should therefore still take out travel insurance for trips in Europe, even if you have a GHIC. That way, you are covered if you need private care or need to be flown home. 

McMillan adds: ‘Travel insurance is still needed for eventualities such as cancellations, disruptions, and if anything happens to your luggage or personal belongings.’ 

Also, don’t be fooled by the name of the GHIC: it does not cover you all around the globe. 

It covers you in the 27 member countries of the European Union, but not the non-EU countries that the EHIC covered, which were Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. 

The Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican don’t accept the GHIC or the EHIC. 

However, the UK does have reciprocal healthcare agreements with a few other countries including Australia and New Zealand, and Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. This means that you can use your GHIC to access free state medical care in these countries. 

However, make sure you read up on the agreement before you travel to any of them, so you know exactly what you are covered for. 

You can apply for a GHIC for free on the NHS website at nhs.uk/usingthe-nhs/healthcare-abroad/ apply-for-a-free-uk-global-healthinsurance-card-ghic. If you cannot apply online you can phone 0191 218 1999 for assistance. 

Make sure you apply for a GHIC directly via the NHS website. There are a number of third-party websites that try to charge you to apply for one and they are often made to look similar to the official website, so beware. You should never have to pay for a GHIC. 

To apply for the card, you’ll need to provide your National Insurance number, and, in some cases, you may be asked for your NHS number. You will also be asked for your full name, address and date of birth. 

You can find your NI number on a payslip or letters about your pension or benefits. If you don’t have your NHS number, you can look it up at nhs.uk/nhs-services/onlineservices/find-nhs-number. 

GHICs last for five years and if you lose yours you can apply for a replacement online at NHS.uk. 

Finally, don’t forget to take your GHIC with you when you travel, and print out details of your travel insurance. 

You will need to show both to medical staff when seeking treatment and to make an insurance claim. It is also worth taking a photo of your GHIC and emailing it to yourself so you have a copy should you lose it while abroad. 

If you do forget your GHIC and need medical assistance while you are in an EU country, you can apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) via the NHS Overseas Healthcare Services. 

Go to: nhsbsa.nhs.uk/contact-us/ overseas-healthcare-services-contact-us. Someone else can apply for a PRC on your behalf if necessary. 

According to the NHS it is taking longer than usual to process new GHIC applications. 

It advises that if you need emergency treatment while abroad and have not yet received a card, you should apply for a PRC.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk