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Five Questions About: European health insurance card

What is a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?

EHICs replaced the old E111 cards in 2006. An EHIC gives UK travellers access to the same state-provided medical treatment that local residents receive in other EU or EEA countries. State medical provision varies, and many countries expect individuals to pay for treatment. Even with an EHIC you may have to do the same, although you can then claim the cost back.

Is an EHIC an alternative to travel insurance?

No, because it only entitles you to basic medical treatment and doesn't cover private medical healthcare costs such as mountain rescue and repatriation costs. And while treatment for things such as maternity care and chronic pre-existing conditions that flare up when you're abroad will be covered, accidents and extensive treatment may not be. Travel insurance is therefore still essential.

Do I need an EHIC if I have travel insurance?

If you are travelling to Europe you should have an EHIC card. Many insurance companies will insist upon it, and may turn down a claim for medical treatment costs if you don't have one. Since the EHIC entitles you to a certain amount of treatment,it costs the insurer moreif you don't have one.

How much does an EHIC cost?

EHIC cards are available free and you can apply for one at www.ehic.org.uk or by calling 0845 606 2030.

Is my EHIC valid forever?

No, EHICs are only valid for five years. Given they were introduced in 2006, millions of people carry cards which are soon to expire. If you're travelling to Europe this summer, make sure you check your EHIC is still valid, and if you don't have a card apply for one now.