Assurances given over EHIC cards

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Ever since the Brexit vote, one question that British holidaymakers and frequent travellers to Europe have been asking is: What will happen to my EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) if/when we finally leave the EU? Like a lot of Brexit questions, and with negotiations barely started, there are very few clear cut answers at the moment. That said, a recent promise that Britons will continue to get healthcare under the existing rules does seem to offer some assurance for travellers.

Reciprocal agreement

The promise came from Brexit Secretary, David Davis in an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. Mr Davis also promised that EU citizens would continue to get free access to NHS care here should his European counterparts agree to honour existing EHIC arrangements for UK citizens. And even if officials in Brussels reject the reciprocal agreement, Mr Davis pledged to foot the bill for any UK citizens who need medical treatment while travelling in the EU, in line with the types of healthcare currently covered by the EU card.

Continuation of the health card scheme

In the interview, Mr Davis said his negotiating team would be seeking a continuation of the existing EHIC scheme which 27 EU countries – as well as Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein – are signed up to, to ease anxiety over the issue. The future of the EHIC card may not be top of the agenda in the Brexit negotiations, but millions of citizens in the UK and the EU will be affected by the settled decision, so the sooner we know where we stand, the better for everyone.

Know what your EU medical card covers

As a UK citizen travelling to the EU, you should continue to carry a valid EHIC with you at all times. Cards are valid for five years so always check before travelling that your present card hasn’t expired. You should apply for a new card in plenty of time, before the ‘six months left’ mark, to avoid any difficulties while on holiday in the EU. In terms of what your card covers, see our FAQs in case you need to take additional insurance for some medical conditions or specific care.

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