For UK citizens, packing a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for European travel is an ingrained routine much like bringing your passport. An invaluable card, your EHIC card ensures, if you need it, you can receive state-provided medical care. It covers you in EU countries as well as Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.
With 27 million EHIC cards issued in the UK, they have become an essential travel companion and cover aspects such as if you;
An EHIC doesn’t necessarily mean treatment will be free, but you will receive the necessary treatment that you need on the same terms as the citizens of the country you are in, providing it is one of the countries in the EU or mentioned above.
With the benefits that EHIC brings, many people are wondering whether the card will still be valid after Brexit.
Brexit: As it stands
The official date for Brexit is the 29th March 2019. However, a transition period has been agreed until 31st December 2020. During this time, all EU laws will still apply in the UK. This means EHIC will still be valid and you’ll have the same rights as before.
However, the transition period will only occur when both the EU and the UK agree on it. As it stands, there are still many issues and disagreements to iron out before the withdrawal agreement can proceed.
If the transition period does go ahead, which is expected, then EHIC will be valid until 2021. After that, it is not clear what will happen. So far, the UK government wants EHIC to continue. However, there has been no agreement for their Brexit White Paper as yet. This means that the benefits of EHIC will potentially finish after Brexit.
With a ‘no deal’ outcome, it may be possible for the UK government to agree with individual countries in the EU for reciprocal healthcare similar to EHIC, but it is impossible to speculate which countries would and wouldn’t approve.
For UK citizens that live abroad, they currently access the same healthcare as the country they live in and use EHIC for other travel in the EU as well as in Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Norway, and Iceland. In a provisional Brexit agreement, people will be able to retain the same rights. Similarly, this works for EU citizens that reside in the UK.
However, in order for this to remain valid, the withdrawal agreement must be accepted by both parties to protect EHIC, healthcare for UK citizens abroad and EU citizens in the UK.