British travellers to Europe are often unaware of the differences in their health insurance regarding what is available in the UK, and what they are entitled to while travelling, so much so that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the British government department that promotes UK interests globally, has announced new advice for visitors to Europe.
A new survey by Gocompare.com, an insurance comparison website, has revealed that around 50 percent of British travellers believe that a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will entitle them to a similar level of state medical care in European countries, to that which they receive in the UK via the National Health Service (NHS).
While a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is essential for British travellers to Europe, it does not, however mean that all care in all European countries is completely free of charge, or that it is to the same level as received in the UK. The recent FCO travel advisory has urged British travellers to check the restrictions on the EHIC before commencing on European travel.
The EHIC provides for complimentary treatment, or treatment at a reduced price, in 27 member countries of the European Economic Area (EEA), but the provisions for health care vary from country to country.
Lynda St Cooke, from the FCO’s ‘Know Before You Go Campaign’, said, ‘It is worrying that so many British EHIC holders are not aware of what the card entitles them to. If you are travelling in Europe, you should definitely take your EHIC – you can apply for it free on the NHS website. But it is also important to take out comprehensive travel insurance before you travel.’
Jeremy Cryer, head of travel insurance at Gocompare.com, said, ‘The name ‘European Health Insurance Card’ suggests that it provides a greater level of medical cover than it actually does. It’s a useful thing to carry with you on holiday in Europe but it’s no substitute for having proper travel insurance.’