The EHIC card replaced the old E111 forms which ceased to exist in July 2006. Quite simply the card provides either free or discounted health care in countries which belong to the European Union. Many tourists wonder why exactly they need to pay for travel insurance premiums which cover medical care around Europe when they already have an EHIC Card which provides free or discounted care in their intended country. The answer is because there are many cases which aren’t covered by the EHIC Card. The best scenario is an illness which requires flights home; as flight costs are not covered by the EHIC Card alone.
Most European countries don’t have a healthcare service which is anywhere near as comprehensive as the NHS, so many treatments or prescriptions require an additional cost, as either a percentage of the total amount or a fixed amount, such as we offer in the United Kingdom. Your holiday insurance premium will cover this additional supplement and any costs associated with it.
For example, if you decide to travel to France with just an EHIC Card and no travel insurance, you will be made to pay the following costs if unfortunately you or any of your family members fall ill:
Prescription Costs – You will need to pay for your prescription costs if you fall ill whilst on holiday in France. Travelling with the EHIC Card allows you to claim back a percentage of the costs at a later day, unless the doctor has marked the prescription form with a dreaded NR. However, without holiday insurance you may find yourself having to pay up to 45% of the total prescription cost, which can work out as very pricey with regard to certain types of medication.
Visiting The Doctor – No one wants to have to visit the doctor whilst on their holidays. However, if you fall ill whilst in France and don’t have travel insurance to match your EHIC documentation, then you’ll find yourself having to pay 30% of the doctor’s costs. This is something that just doesn’t bear thinking about in the situation that your child falls ill during the night and you have to cover 30% of the hefty call-out fee.
Hospital Stay – This isn’t really something you particularly want to think about whilst booking your city break to Paris in a glossy travel agency. However, if you end up in a Parisian hospital without travel insurance it’s a little to late to then discover your EHIC card won’t cover the fixed daily charge charged by French hospitals to their in-patients.
Meanwhile, if you’d had taken out holiday insurance this would have been covered in your medical costs. Paying a fixed daily charge isn’t the end to your worries, a hospital stay in France means that you also have to pay a non-refundable 25% of the cost of any in-patient treatment.
Spain, Switzerland and Portugal are further examples of countries which require a hefty percentage of your medical costs if you are just travelling with an EHIC Card and no holiday insurance. So if you’re travelling to Europe then the only way to save money and at the same time ensure you are well covered is by pairing your EHIC Card with a comprehensive travel insurance policy.