Since Brexit is done can I discard my EHIC?
As a UK national if your EHIC has expired then sure discard it and apply for its substitute the GHIC instead. But if you card was recently issued before Brexit it should be valid of a period of another five years (Both EHIC and GHIC are valid for five years). It remains valid for use all EU countries and a few other EEC countries. Apart from that make sure to get travel insurance when planning a trip to the EU.
What coverage will the new GHIC offer?
Both the cards offer the same services i.e. access to emergency treatment at hospitals that are part of the state healthcare. A GHIC holder will get the same kind of treatment as the locals of that nation. The treatment may be completely free or they may have to pay a small amount the same as the local residents of that nation pay.
The coverage includes the following:
- Access to medical facilities for pre-existing conditions
- Regular maternity check-ups but not allowed to use the facility with the purpose of giving birth.
- Getting emergency treatment at the A&E
- Visiting a hospital for dialysis or oxygen (these need to be pre-arranged)
While the term includes the word Global, this is not the case as this card is only valid for use in the EU and not outside. Some of the nations that were earlier included by the EHIC are no longer covered Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
The GHIC does not cover the following
Having a GHIC does not mean you do not require travel insurance. It will not offer coverage for the following something that most travel insurances will:
- In case of any medical emergency if there is need to visit a doctor in private practice this is not covered by the GHIC.
- If any kind of rescue is needed e.g. skiing accident or medical repatriation to the UK
- Flight or holiday cancellation for any cause
- In those countries where GHIC holders have to pay a subsidized sum for treatment same as the locals, the amount will not be refunded by the GHIC. However, travel insurance will mostly reimburse the amount.
Are EU national after Brexit entitled to coverage?
All EU citizens that plan to work or study in the UK and are within the country before December 2020 are covered by the agreement reached the UK government and the EU. Therefore, they can use their EHICs at all NHS facilities across the UK for any emergency medical needs. The cards are valid for use as long as they do not expire. In case of an expiry, they can apply to their home country to have a new card issued or opt for a UK GHIC also.
Does this impact UK expats living in other nations also?
For those British expats that are living after retirement in other EU countries, things could change. The situation will be subject to the rules and regulations of the nation they are residing in at the time. It would be best for them to speak to a professional about their EHIC/ GHIC situation as they will be best qualified to guide them. Most of those expats having valid EHICs can continue to use them in the EU country they live in.
With GHIC coverage why should I spend extra on travel insurance?
This is a topic that is frequently brought up and much discussed. Firstly, EHIC/GHIC are completely different from travel insurance. The GHIC/EHIC only offers limited coverage for medical emergencies and that too for state healthcare facilities only. Travel insurance can be much more comprehensive and cover almost every other area that is not included by the GHIC/EHIC. If in an emergency you do not have easy access to a state healthcare service facility and need to spend at a private hospital, it will not be reimbursed by the GHIC/EHIC. Travel insurance on the other hand will cover that and refund the cost.