Healthplan Spain


Travel documents with plastic white plane on top Holidaymakers Warned Of Expiring EHIC Cards With Four Million Brits Affected Spain News

British travellers heading to the EU or Switzerland this year are being advised to perform a crucial health insurance check before embarking on their trips to avoid potential financial setbacks in case of a medical emergency.

Previously, British citizens could obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for free, providing them access to state healthcare in EU countries and certain others either free of charge or at reduced rates. Post-Brexit, EHICs are being phased out and replaced by the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). The GHIC grants Brits access to medical treatment at the same rates as local citizens in the EU country they are visiting.

Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert has issued a warning that over four million EHICs are set to expire in 2024, meaning many Brits will need to apply for a GHIC this year. Since EHICs have a validity of five years, those planning trips to EU countries or Switzerland should check the expiration date at the bottom right of their card.

Applying for a new card is possible up to nine months before the current one expires, a helpful consideration for those with upcoming travel plans who want to avoid last-minute complications. The NHS recommends applying well in advance, as new cards may take up to 15 days to arrive by post after the application is submitted.

The application for a GHIC is free and can be completed on the NHS website. Be careful of unofficial websites as they may charge unnecessary fees. Applicants need to provide their full name, address, date of birth, and either the National Insurance or NHS number. An email will be sent within 24 hours of application submission to confirm approval.

Each family member requires their own GHIC, and spouses, civil partners, and children can be added to the application. If an EHIC is still valid, there is no need to replace it with a GHIC, as EHICs remain valid until their expiration.

The GHIC covers various medical services, including treatment for long-term or pre-existing conditions, routine medical care, emergency treatment, and visits to A&E when in the EU or Switzerland. However, it does not cover trips specifically for medical treatment, and detailed information on coverage is available on the GOV.UK website.

It is crucial to note that an EHIC or GHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance. Both the government and the NHS recommend having both types of coverage before embarking on a holiday. MoneySavingExpert emphasised that while GHICs and EHICs are valuable for medical cover, travel insurance offers broader coverage, including cancellation, delays, baggage loss, and theft. The website further explained that certain exclusions in travel insurance policies may not apply to GHICs or EHICs, such as treatment after drinking or for pre-existing conditions.