Should You Pick Up Your Free EHIC Card?

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The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is free of charge to receive and covers a wide range of medical issues. Medical care is typically free or at the very least at a discounted rate when you present the EHIC. With such great benefits for such little effort everyone should have an EHIC, However only around 50% of the British population has one. But if someone were to come up to me and ask me “Should you pick up your free EHIC Card? What are the benefits?” Then I would reply that they would be unwise not to, because of the numerous benefits.

This card is great for anyone visiting friends and family, or looking to take a holiday in the European Union. We never plan for medical emergencies, but should one happen to you it is best to be prepared.

What exactly can the EHIC do for me?

Treatment might not be free in all cases, but you will get the same treatment as a native of the country that you are visiting. Typically this card will only be applicable to state run hospitals as the private ones are not in any agreement with the EU reciprocal health care agreement.

There are a few considerations you need to be aware of regarding this card: All countries have different systems in place for health care payments. In some cases you may have to pay the whole bill and then reclaim the money at a later date when you arrive to the UK. In such a scenario it is a good idea to keep all receipts, contact details of the hospital and dates. This is to ensure that the refund process can go as smoothly as possible. Whenever you’re out and about make sure the card is on you at all times. It’s the size of a bank card so keeping it in your wallet will not be a problem. This is important because failure to show the EHIC when asked will mean that you will not be entitled to its benefits. Every member of the family needs their own card. If you have any children under the age of 16 then you will have to apply on their behalf.
Although the EHIC is very handy to have it doesn’t cover all the angles: You might be taken to a private hospital which means your card will not be applicable. Issues such as lost luggage, robbery and missed flights are not covered. The card is only for medical related emergencies. The quality of the insurance overall is not as good as those offered by travel insurance companies.

How to apply?

To apply you simply need to visit the NHS website or call 0845 606 2030. The application process only takes a few minutes and you can have your card within a week. Don’t leave such an important task a few weeks before your date of travel. I’m sure you will have a lot of other items on your checklist that need attending to. So apply now and get your free EHIC well in advance for your peace of mind.


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