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Do not rely on EHIC when travelling with a medical condition PDF Print Email

UK travellers are warned not to rely solely on the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for emergency treatment when abroad, particularly if they have pre-exiting medical conditions.


This is especially true for those heading to Spain, and it can be adviseable to ensure you have travel insurance to cover your medical condition. While the EHIC does cover some occurances of pre-existing conditions, there's confusion about what treatment the EHIC will cover and not all countries are abiding by the agreement.


The EHIC should entitle travellers to emergency treatment for new and pre-existing conditions in countries that are part of the reciprocal Health Agreement. However, in July the European Commission issued legal proceedings against the Spanish government in response to 100s of cases of UK travellers in possession of an EHIC being asked to pay in cash, claim on their insurance or being turned away from public hospitals. ABTA has also reported of isolated incidents in other parts of the Mediterranean.


The other major issue is that in some holiday areas, there's limited public hospitals. As the EHIC is not accepted in private hospitals, you may be faced with the choice of a long journey at your own cost to get emergency treatment or a big bill to be treated privately.


The EHIC may give travellers with pre-existing conditions a false sense of security that if they need treatment, it will be available at no cost. You also need to consider the costs for rescheduled flights and accommodation not covered by the card.


You should consider comprehensive travel insurance specifically covering any pre-existing medical conditions and check the terms and conditions of the policy.
The EHIC will NOT cover:


- Private hospitals
- Any additional costs incurred to travel to and from a state/public hospital (this could be miles away)
- Replacement flights if you are advised not to fly or cannot fly on your return date
- Additional hotel and accommodation costs for you or your family