How Does EHIC Work?

Applying for your EHIC and getting the card sent to you in the post is just the first part of the reciprocal health scheme. It’s not sufficient just to apply for the card then forget all about it – you’ll need to be able to produce your card if you need treatment overseas, and understand what EHIC does and doesn’t cover you for.

If you fall ill when you’re in one of the EHIC countries or need to see a GP about an existing medical condition, then you will have to organise this yourself. Find out what the name of the state healthcare provider is, as EHIC will only every cover care in the state sector. If you’re asking a native speaker to make the arrangements for you, ensure they understand that you wish to use your EHIC. When you arrive at the GP or go to hospital, take your EHIC with you and present it to the admission staff. They may also want to see your passport. If you’re referred on to a different hospital, make sure it’s covered by EHIC too.

There may still be costs associated with your treatment. People in various countries across the EEA pay when they see their GP and are charged a fee when admitted overnight to hospital. Always ask if you don’t understand what you’re being charged and keep all invoices and receipts. If your illness is serious enough that you need to cut your holiday short and return to the UK, then this is where EHIC cover stops. You’ll have to claim on your travel insurance for help with the costs of repatriation or changes to missed flights. And just like the UK, other countries around Europe will charge for most dental work, and if you are given a prescription.