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Regular travellers will likely be familiar with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), but these are gradually being phased out and will be replaced by the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). And they’re well worth having, as they entitle tourists to free or discounted health care when travelling out of the UK, The Mirror reports.
Both cards do the same thing and while they don’t act as insurance, they can end up saving travellers a lot of money in healthcare bills, should they need it.
Our sister website 2Chill has looked at exactly how they work, what they entitle you to, and how to get your hands on one.
What do the EHIC and GHIC do?
The cards may have different names but they act in much the same way. They are free, last for five years, and entitle those with one to cheaper medical care in EU member state countries.
If travellers need medical care in Europe and they have one of these cards, they will only pay what a local person who lives in the country would pay.
This includes state-run hospitals and doctors and it means if a local would be able to get free treatment, cardholders will too.
However, if residents would usually have to pay for this, cardholders will be charged the same rate they would be. This could still be far less than going to a private medical centre.
Residents of EU countries are also able to benefit from free NHS treatment if they are visiting the UK and have one of the cards.
However, travellers can’t use the card if they are specifically travelling abroad for a medical reason, such as an operation.
How to apply
Travellers can apply for one of the free cards via the Government website.
They must ensure they apply at least two weeks before they are due to travel, so their card has time to arrive.
Travellers will never have to pay for this card, although lots of websites may offer to apply for them for a fee.
Travellers are advised to only go through the genuine website to make sure they don’t have to pay and they get the right card.
To get a card, travellers need to be over 16 to apply for a card, although every member needs their own, so a parent or guardian can apply for children.
Does a card replace insurance?
Although it’s called a health insurance card, the card in no way replaces travel insurance.
All it does is lower the cost you pay for medical care in EU countries.
Travel insurance usually covers medical costs of at least £1million among other things, including repatriation back to the UK if needed.
Travel insurance also covers holidaymakers if their holiday company goes bust or for things like theft, damage, or loss of any of your belongings.
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