EHIC: Government to review policies after claims that NHS is vulnerable to 'health tourism' fraud

Some non-British citizens able to give false information to use cards for free treatment in their own countries, according to investigation

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The Independent Online

The Government is to “urgently” review how European Health Insurance Cards are granted to non-British nationals after an investigation raised concerns they are being exploited for "health tourism".

According to an investigation by the Daily Mail, some non-British citizens are able to give false information to obtain the cards and use them for free treatment in their own countries.

EHICs enable people who are travelling abroad to receive the same state healthcare as a local citizen to that country. The card is part of an arrangement between EU countries and Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

They enable people to access medical services which they can then claim when they return home to their native country.

Health Minister Alistair Burt told The Independent: “It is completely unacceptable that people living outside the UK think they can abuse our NHS. That’s why this Government has already introduced tough measures to clamp down on migrants using healthcare without making a contribution, to save half a billion pounds within a few years.

“We are continually looking at ways we can tighten up the process further, and as a result of this investigation, the Department will urgently carry out more work to include EHIC applications.”

Joyce Robins, co-Director of healthcare campaign group Patient Concern, told The Independent: “There has to be something dangerously wrong with a system that allows a day trip to Britain to set up a foreigner for five years of free medication at our expense.

“No card should be issued without proof of employment and tax status. Our NHS system is heading for bankruptcy fast unless we take sensible precautions.”

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