Figures show that there is a high level of awareness about the EHIC scheme (old e111) in general, but that most of us are a bit confused when it comes to understanding what EHIC is, what it covers, and how to get your hands on one.
EHIC is a European based scheme. It’s an agreement between 32 countries to allow their residents to use each other’s state healthcare systems if they need to. The countries which are part of the scheme are the countries of the EU, plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. No other countries are included but the UK will continue to be part of EHIC at least as long as it takes to complete the Brexit process.
Most of the misconceptions about EHIC are because every healthcare system across Europe is different in how it operates. Not all countries get free healthcare as we do in the UK, and many patients are asked to pay for their food and “lodging” while in hospital, or hand over a small amount when they see their GP. These costs will apply to you too if you are a UK national using their healthcare system with an EHIC card.
EHIC is a credit card sized piece of plastic which has your name, date of birth and nationality on it. Not everyone will have the right to a UK EHIC card, it will depend on whether you have a home or job elsewhere as well as the UK. Every member of the family needs their own card and you should take them away with you when you travel as you will be asked to present them if you need to access care. EHIC can’t cover anything else apart from healthcare; you’ll need a separate travel insurance policy to cover losing your passport, cancellations and delays.