We have now left the European Union. What replaced the European health insurance card and how to get it?
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I used to have an EHIC in case I needed medical care while on holiday in Europe. We have now left the European Union. What replaced the EHIC and how do I get one? South, Lincolnshire.
Ruth Jackson-Kirby answers: The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gave British travelers free medical treatment when traveling in Europe. Since January last year, British citizens can no longer apply for it.
All changes: The European Health Insurance Card has been replaced by the Global Health Insurance Card
The good news is that the EHIC has been replaced by the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).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.
GHIC entitles you to the same free treatment that local residents receive in public hospitals and GP surgeries in Europe.
In most countries, you should get free emergency treatment and emergency room care. You also usually won’t have to pay for treatment of pre-existing conditions and maternity care – unless you travel abroad to give birth. If needed, you should also get free oxygen and kidney dialysis in most places.
However, public health care is not free in all European countries, so there is no guarantee that GHIC will provide you with the treatment you need for free. Ceri McMillan, travel insurance representative for comparison site Go Compare, says: “A lot of countries don’t have free health care like the UK. If private health care is your only option, GHIC will not cover it.”
Therefore, you should still take out travel insurance for travel to Europe, even if you have a GHIC. That way, you’re covered if you need private care or need to be taken home.
Macmillan adds: “Travel insurance is still needed in case of cancellations, disruptions and if something happens to your luggage or personal belongings.”
Also, don’t be fooled by the name GHIC: it doesn’t cover you globally.
It covers you in the 27 member states of the European Union, but not in the non-EU countries covered by the EHIC, which are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City do not accept GHIC or EHIC.
However, the UK has reciprocal health agreements with several other countries, including Australia and New Zealand, as well as Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. This means you can use your GHIC to get free government health care in these countries.
However, make sure you read the agreement before traveling to any of them so you know exactly what you’re guaranteed.
You can apply for a free GHIC on the NHS website at nhs.uk/usingthe-nhs/healthcare-abroad/ apply-for-a-free-uk-global-healthinsurance-card-ghic. If you are unable to apply online, you can call 0191 218 1999.
Make sure you apply for GHIC directly through the NHS website. There are a number of third-party websites that try to charge you to apply, and they often look similar to the official website, so be careful. You never have to pay a GHIC.
You will need to provide your National Insurance number to apply for a card and in some cases you may be asked for an NHS number. You will also be asked for your full name, address and date of birth.
You can find your NI number on your pay slip or letters about your pension or benefits. If you don’t have an NHS number, you can find one 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, remember to take your GHIC with you when you travel and print out your travel insurance details.
You will need to show both to the medical staff when you seek treatment and to make an insurance claim. It’s also a good idea to take a photo of your GHIC and email it to yourself so you have a copy in case you lose it while abroad.
If you forget your GHIC and need medical care while you are in an EU country, you can apply for a Temporary Replacement Certificate (PRC) through NHS Health Abroad.
Go to: nhsbsa.nhs.uk/contact-us/ overseas-healthcare-services-contact-us. If necessary, someone else can apply for a PRC on your behalf.
According to the NHS, new GHIC applications are taking longer than usual to process.
It states that if you need emergency assistance while abroad and have not yet received a card, you must apply in the PRC.
What replaced the European health insurance card?
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