Heading for the ski slopes...are you covered?

Skiers are in for a shock if they totally rely on the EU health insurance card, says Helena Crow

The European Health Insurance Card, which replaces the old E111 form, claims to cover "any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip". However, loopholes in the system could leave those holidaymakers heading for the ski slopes of Europe this winter thousands of pounds in debt if they are not fully aware of what the card does and does not cover.

The card, administered in the UK by the NHS, allows holders to receive basic medical treatment abroad to the same level as nationals of the country they are visiting. That means that many countries will ask patients to pay out for medication, ambulance, and numerous other extras. The card does not cover the costs of emergency repatriation should a traveller be taken seriously ill. And many of the newly emerging ski resorts in non-EU Eastern Europe are not within the scheme at all.

France, Italy and Switzerland are traditionally the most popular European ski destinations for British tourists. Although they provide up-to-date ski facilities, they do not do so well on free medical provision. In France and Italy, ambulance and air-lift fees must be paid for by the injured individual even if they hold an EHIC, a cost that can amount to several thousand pounds. In Switzerland, only 50 per cent of ambulance and air travel will be paid, leaving those without travel insurance who have to be air-lifted having to pay out around £1,000.

In France, you will have to pay up to 65 per cent of the cost of prescribed medicines, even those used within the hospital, while Swiss hospitals demand a fixed daily in-patient fee, including the price of medication, which reaches a larger figure if the patient stays for more than 30 days.

Italy's healthcare system is even more complicated, being subject to numerous regional variations. The NHS suggests that tourists speak to the appropriate local authority through the Italian embassy to see if their ski area is covered. But it adds that "travellers without extra insurance should be prepared to pay".

The new card is not valid in Bulgaria, the leading ski destination in non-EU Eastern Europe. However the country has a reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK which entitles holidaymakers to hospital treatment at an in-patient charge similar to that paid by locals, except in an emergency, when it is free.

The disturbing reality for winter tourists is that the small print in the EHIC agreement varies from country to country.

For further information call the NHS Health Customer Service Centre (020-7210 4850).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: MI Developer

    £35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...

    Recruitment Genius: Fitness Manager

    £20000 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leisure organisation manag...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Manager

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Delivering an inspiring, engagi...

    Recruitment Genius: Learning Team Administrator

    £17500 - £20500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a great te...

    Day In a Page

    Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

    Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
    General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

    All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

    The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
    How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

    How Etsy became a crafty little earner

    The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
    Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

    King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

    Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

    The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
    Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

    Don't fear the artichoke

    Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
    11 best men's socks

    11 best men's socks

    Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
    Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

    Paul Scholes column

    Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
    Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
    London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

    Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

    Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

    Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
    Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

    Khorasan is back in Syria

    America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
    General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

    On the campaign trail with Ukip

    Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
    Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

    Expect a rush on men's tights

    Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
    Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

    In the driving seat: Peter Kay

    Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road