The European Health Insurance Card sounds like it simply applies to Europe, but it’s actually more complicated than that. So it’s wise to check whether you will be covered for free or reduced cost medical care in the country you are travelling to before you set off.
Essentially, the European health insurance card covers you for the equivalent treatment that the local people receive in the European Economic Area, as well as Switzerland. That means that if they receive free treatment, you will too, and if not then you will be charged the equivalent cost. EHIC rule changes in 2014 mean you can no longer reclaim charges for ‘co-payment’, so bear this in mind when planning your trip.
When you present your EU health card, you should immediately gain access to the best emergency care the country can offer. It’s a guarantee that you are entitled to healthcare in the UK, and with the reciprocal agreement in place with the UK, that is enough to get you taken care of in your time of need.
Where your EHIC Card is valid:
- Czech Republic
- Netherlands (Holland)
Exceptions to the rule
There are exceptions, however, as some countries simply have not signed up to the reciprocal agreement with the UK. Some of the exceptions to the EHIC card countries might surprise you, so it’s worth knowing these before you even book your trip.
The Channel Islands are not covered by your EHIC card, and this has caught many travellers by surprise as a lot of people consider these islands such a close neighbour of the UK.
Other minor principalities that have not signed up to the deal include Monaco, the tiny Principality on the Cote d’Azur; San Marino, a self-contained nation that is often considered to be part of Italy; and The Vatican, one of the world’s smallest countries.
The wider world
While there are exceptions to the rule, though, there is also good news as a number of other EHIC countries outside the European Economic Area do, in fact, have reciprocal health agreements with the UK. In these instances, presenting your EHIC card can help you access the treatment. It isn’t essential in many instances, but simply proving your entitlement to healthcare in the UK can save valuable time and help you skirt a large amount of red tape.
The following nations have a reciprocal agreement with the UK: Australia, Anguilla, Barbados, Bosnia & Herzegovina, British Virgin Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Jersey, Macedonia, Montenegro, Montserrat, New Zealand, St Helena, Serbia, Turks and Caicos Islands.
Save time and money
In all these nations, a European health insurance card technically won’t count for much, but it will assuage the hospital’s fears and ensure that you get seen to quickly. It will also mean that you don’t get presented with a large bill to pay before the hospital agrees to treat you. This has happened before, so make sure you have your card to hand as it will help your cause should the worst happen.