Some of the confusion around EHIC and how to use it comes from the fact that there is widespread confusion over what exactly “Europe” means in the context of EHIC – the European Health Insurance Card. If you’re jetting off on your summer holidays this year it’s important to be sure you have adequate cover for your trip, and that starts by working out whether EHIC applies in your case or not. Remember also that foreign doctors and hospitals often insist on seeing your EHIC card before treatment starts, so this is one piece of paperwork that you should really keep with you at all times. Find whether the countries you are planning to visit are part of the EHIC scheme well in advance of travel, and this gives you the chance to be prepared and organised when it comes to travel insurance if you need to organise extra cover.
EHIC only applies to countries which are part of the European Economic Area, or EEA. This isn’t a term which we use often in the UK, and again this causes confusion. Some countries which are not in the EEA and which are commonly visited by British tourists or business travellers are:
- Bosnia Herzegovina
Smaller countries in Europe such as Monaco, San Marino and Andorra aren’t in the EEA either, and your EHIC won’t be accepted there. Closer to home, the Channel Islands and Isle of Man don’t fall within the EEA, and although they have reciprocal health agreements with the NHS for people travelling from the UK, residents of other countries in Europe won’t be able to use their EHIC cover. It should go without saying that if your travel plans are taking you even further afield to North Africa, the Middle East of America, these destinations will never be covered by EHIC. If you are travelling through Europe by Interrail, or taking a road trip, you might be covered in some countries and not in others. In these situations, take your EHIC with you as this will allow you access healthcare in the EEA countries, and have additional travel insurance which will cover healthcare in the counties which are not part of EHIC, and also will provide the extras which EHIC doesn’t. These include things like getting you back home by air ambulance if you have a serious illness, and meeting any additional costs associated with falling ill overseas.
Cover for Non-EHIC Countries
If you are travelling to a country which is not part of the reciprocal health agreement area, you will have no option but to take out travel insurance for your trip which covers all medical treatment you might need in case of emergency. Quotes will vary depending on what countries you are visiting and your individual medical history. It’s always best to shop around when looking for quotes to make sure you are getting the best price and cover for your needs.