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More than 10,000 Britons without EHIC need medical help in Europe every year

More than 10,000 British travelers a year have to apply for emergency documents to access medical care in Europe because they do not have a valid EHIC, figures obtained by MoneySavingExpert show.

An EHIC – or European Health Insurance Card – is free and gives you access to free or reduced cost medical care in all 28 European countries, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

But if you get sick or have an accident while traveling in Europe and don’t have an EHIC, you’ll at least face an administrative headache and likely have to call back to the UK to sort out the coverage – the last thing you want in a medical emergency. You might even be billed for treatment or have to claim your insurance.

Data obtained by MoneySavingExpert under the Freedom of Information Act shows that over the past five years, 56,287 Provisional Replacement Certificates (PRCs) have been issued by the overseas healthcare team of the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure that Britons without EHIC can obtain medical care. they need.

And the actual number of Brits surprised by not having an EHIC is probably much higher, as these figures only show the number of those who were able to organize emergency cover. More are likely to have had to pay for care themselves or claim their travel insurance and pay a deductible – although these figures are not recorded by the government.

For more information on how the EHIC works, how to get one, and how to check that yours is still valid, see our Free CEAM card to guide.

What is an EHIC?

If you are a UK resident you will usually be eligible for a UK issued EHIC and it is completely free – check out the full eligibility criteria on the NHS website.

Getting an EHIC means that if you need medical attention while traveling in Europe, you will be entitled to the same treatment as local citizens – extremely useful in an emergency.

The EHIC covers all EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Some (but not all) overseas territories are also included – for example, coverage for Portugal includes the Azores and Madeira. See our CEAM country by country guide for more information.

How do I get an EHIC (or check that the one I have is valid)?

To register for an EHIC, you can:

  • Apply on the official CEAM website.
  • Call 0300 330 1350.
  • Print the application form from NHS website, fill it out and mail it to: NHS Business Services Authority, European Health Insurance Card, EHIC Applications, Bridge House, 152 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 6SN.

You can’t get an EHIC from your doctor, and whatever you do, DON’T just google “free EHIC” – you could end up on an impostor site that charges.

If you already have an EHIC, it’s important to make sure it’s always up to date, as millions expire every year. Check the expiration date at the bottom right of the card – for full help see How to check the validity of your EHIC.

What happens if I fall ill in Europe and DO NOT HAVE an EHIC?

If you are eligible for an EHIC but do not have one and fall ill while traveling to a country where the EHIC is valid, you may receive a provisional replacement certificate. You should arrange this treatment BEFORE treatment except in a medical emergency.

A PRC proves that you are entitled to an EHIC and can be used to get you the same coverage – but applying for it can be a tedious process. You or someone acting on your behalf will need to call the Ministry of Work and Pensions Overseas Health Care team on +44 (0) 191 218 1999 – which is frustrating you can only do so. between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.

You will need to provide your name, national insurance number, address, date of birth, and email or fax number of the specific department of the hospital or other organization that treats you abroad. If your request is accepted, a PRC will then be sent to your place of processing.

More than 10,000 captured without EHIC each year

Travelers are often warned about the importance of taking an EHIC, but new figures obtained by MoneySavingExpert show the scale of people caught red-handed.

According to Department of Health statistics we obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, a total of 56,287 Provisional Replacement Certificates (PRCs) were issued between April 2012 and March 2017.

In 2012-13, 10,010 PRCs were issued and the number each year has remained relatively constant since – although statistics show a peak in 2016-17 which the Department of Health says is due to a backlog of PRCs. awaiting treatment compared to previous years.

It is important to remember that these statistics only show the number of people who did not have an EHIC but who managed to organize an emergency replacement. It is likely that many more people ended up paying for care, claiming travel insurance or even potentially returning to the UK for treatment.

What if I cannot get CRP before I am treated?

If you do not have an EHIC and you are not able to organize a CRP, then you must contact your travel insurer. Even if you have an EHIC, it is still a good idea to talk to them in this situation, as depending on the country you are visiting, EHIC or PRC might not cover all of your costs. See our Cheap travel insurance guide for more help.

Keep in mind that if you are making a claim on your insurance, most policies have a deductible – usually between £ 50 and £ 100 for medical treatment per claim – which means you are responsible for the first part of any claim. .

If you don’t have travel insurance and really need treatment, you will need to go to a public hospital. You may be charged in this case and you will have to pay. It might be possible to get a PRC retrospectively to cover the treatment, but there is no guarantee and whenever possible you are supposed to get the PRC first.

If you are in this situation, remember to keep all receipts and documents, and make copies if necessary. Then, if possible, contact the Overseas Healthcare team on +44 (0) 191 218 1999.

It should be noted that in exceptional circumstances where you cannot request a PRC, the hospital itself has the option of requesting a PRC for you and offering you free treatment in anticipation of retrospective cost recovery from the Kingdom. -United. However, it is not known how often this happens and there is no guarantee, so again, it is better to organize it yourself before treatment.

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