The EHIC – A Valued Companion for Family Travel Insurance
Getting family travel insurance? The European Health Insurance Card is a pretty useful aid for the travelling family, but it's not a replacement.
What Is the EHIC?
The European Health Insurance Card is a card that grants you healthcare benefits in the entire European Union along with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – effectively providing coverage for over 32 countries in Europe. The EHIC is a useful addition to family travel insurance packages, especially when you fall ill or run into an accident while travelling abroad. If you have the card, then you are entitled to the same healthcare benefits as regular citizens in your host country.
Does it Mean Healthcare is Free?
This depends largely on where you are as well as the nature of your medical needs. Some countries provide free healthcare as long as you seek medical attention from state facilities. Others provide significantly reduced costs, meaning that you’ll still have to pay a portion of the amount that depends on the healthcare policies of your host country. Also, you will only be covered if treatment is urgent and cannot wait until you return to your host country. This means that you cannot use the EHIC for ‘medical tourism’ where you travel abroad to seek medical treatment from foreign specialists or for reduced costs when compared to the UK.
While EHIC is a great supplement, the biggest problem is that you will be forced to seek out state facilities in order to be treated. These state facilities are often few and far between, meaning that you’ll need to travel pretty far in order to avail of the coverage provided. You may even be forced to go to a private hospital and end up paying the bills in case of an emergency. Another major problem is that even a fraction of the medical expenses can still hurt your account balance if the amount is large enough. Family travel insurance with added health coverage could cover this amount to the point where you won’t need to worry about out-of-pocket expenses.
The card is valid only for the individuals named, meaning that you’ll need to get a card for each individual member of your family. The card itself is free of charge, so you’ll only need to worry about handling the paperwork. It is also worth remembering that only those over the age of 16 can apply for an EHIC themselves, and that children under the age of 16 can get a card of their own by filling out the 'dependent' section of the application.
Keep all this in mind, and you’ll realize how important a tool the EHIC is when it comes to travelling in Europe. Couple it with a good, comprehensive family travel insurance policy and everyone will be well protected.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of Insuremore. We provide low cost travel insurance and offer a range of policies including family travel insurance, annual, multi-trip and single-trip insurance. For all your travel cover needs, Insuremore can help you in the quickest and most cost-efficient way.