Continued uncertainty around Brexit prevails following the EU granting the UK an extension until the end of January 2020. Uncertainty brings with it confusion, which became apparent after an independent survey was conducted by flexible insurance provider, Cuvva with a pool of UK residents.
Survey findings revealed more than four in ten (41 per cent) UK holidaymakers admit they don’t know how leaving the EU will affect access to free healthcare in the EU. Furthermore, 31 per cent of respondents believe that when the UK leaves the EU, UK residents will lose access to free healthcare in the EU, regardless of the outcome.
Brexit extension, deal or no-deal – understanding how the European Healthcare Insurance Card (EHIC) covers UK citizens travelling in the EU can be very confusing. This is without Brexit uncertainty thrown into the mix.
The Brexit extension essentially means that holders of the EHIC can continue to access necessary state-provided healthcare until a deal is cemented and details are agreed. However, in the case of a no-deal, the EHIC may no longer be valid.
“In the next few months of more uncertainty, covering all your bases when travelling in the EU is best, to safeguard oneself from any unnecessary disruptions,” said Freddy Macnamara, founder at Cuvva.
He continues, “EHIC is a good addition to comprehensive travel insurance but it’s not an alternative. State-provided healthcare might not always be accessible in an emergency, which could leave one with a large bill to settle, if private healthcare is the only option.”
This was the case with Sarah Bayley who bought comprehensive travel insurance to top-up the cover provided by the EHIC for a skiing trip to Switzerland. Sarah sustained serious head injuries after a fall on the slopes and needed to be hospitalised. After the ordeal, Sarah returned to London with a £2,000.00 bill to cover the ambulance and initial doctor’s surgery visit, which were both privately run. Luckily Sarah’s travel insurance covered the shortfall.
What is EHIC?
EHIC provides UK citizens with access to necessary state-provided healthcare at a discounted rate or for free when travelling in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. The EHIC doesn’t cover private healthcare. Healthcare systems differ from one country to the next in the EU, and the level of cover provided to EHIC holders differs.
Additionally, EHIC is limited to healthcare only and doesn’t cover cancellation or lost luggage that’s usually covered in a travel insurance policy. EHIC is free for UK citizens and are typically valid for five years. If you’re a cardholder, do check the expiry date before travelling abroad.