European Health Insurance Card required for visitors to the UK

If you have friends or family visiting you from Europe, have them apply for free health care!
the_european_health_insurance_card.jpg26 March 2010. The rules have changed. Visitors to the UK from the European Union now need to carry a valid EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) in case they need immediate and necessary medical treatment in an NHS hospital. Without it they are now liable to be charged for the treatment they receive.

Travelling abroad can be stressful enough without the added worry of expensive medical bills if you or a companion falls ill. So if you have friends or family visiting you from Europe, don’t let them forget to apply for an EHIC before they leave home. Their trip could cost a lot more than they planned if they become ill or have an accident whilst in the UK and aren’t carrying their EHIC. .

The EHIC provides visitors to the UK with peace of mind as it covers all immediate treatment that may become necessary during their stay. They will get the same access to public sector health care (e.g. a doctor, a pharmacy, a hospital or a health care centre) as nationals. However, it does not cover treatment that could wait until they return home or treatment for an illness or injury that you had before travelling.

The EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance as it does not cover all medical costs, repatriation to the home country or associated costs such as accommodation for relatives. It’s therefore important that visitors to the UK have both an EHIC and travel insurance to be fully covered for medical costs during their trip.

Whilst no-one is ever turned away from an NHS hospital if they need treatment, EEA visitors are liable to be charged unless they carry a valid EHIC.

Those travelling from the UK to other countries in the European Union also need to carry an EHIC.

The EHIC is free to obtain. Some websites are known to be offering it in exchange for money. Please note that the card is available free of charge through your local health authority.

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