The UK Global Health Insurance Card

Paul Sandilands, Founder & Non Exec Director, Pulse Insurance:

I am writing this on Monday morning. Outside , yet again, torrential rain! Unbelievable!

I guess that the more it rains the more many of us think about sunshine and how do we get some?! We can at least start planning a holiday trip.

My daughter, Marietta lives and works in Spain, so a first stop for us is likely to be Spain.

She reminded me of the need to get Holiday Travel cover. But we talked about the fact that just under a year ago I had to have a kidney removed. Although I feel absolutely fine now I may find travel insurance a bit more difficult. “Never mind Dad! Make sure you have your EHIC/GHIC card up-to date too!”

I asked her to send me a note about this, which she has done, and I am very happy to share what she wrote in the Guest Post below.

Getting healthcare when travelling abroad: EHIC and GHIC – Marietta Sandilands

Before Brexit you may have used a blue European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to cover you for “medically necessary travel” when you travelled abroad in Europe.

GHIC cards: Post-Brexit how have things changed?

Existing EHIC cards remain valid until expiry. If yours has expired you can apply for the new version of this card, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which allows you access to medically necessary public healthcare in the EU, and several other countries on the same basis as a resident of that country. This means you may have to pay if a resident of the country would be required to pay. For example, in Portugal there are co-payments/user fees for people using the healthcare system. The card remains free, via the NHS, and is valid for 5 years.

Which countries does the GHIC cover?

The GHIC allows you to access public healthcare in EU countries as well as a number of other countries including Australia, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. For a full list of the countries covered by the new GHIC check the NHS GHIC website.

Medically necessary treatment – what does that mean exactly?

This includes any emergency treatment, for example if you have an accident while on holiday or need some emergency care. It also includes routine monitoring for pre-existing conditions, monitoring for pregnancy (not travelling abroad to give birth however), kidney dialysis treatment and oxygen treatment. In the case of kidney and oxygen treatment, these need to be pre-arranged before you travel.

Ultimately it is the decision of the healthcare provider that you see to decide whether your treatment is “medically necessary”.

What happens if I forget my card?

Don’t panic – You can still get public healthcare treatment. Contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare team via their online form or by phone, to request a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC). This will provide you with emergency temporary cover as though you had your EHIC or GHIC with you. You will need to provide information like your date of birth and national insurance number, as well as the name and email address of the clinic you are receiving treatment at.

Other things to bear in mind…

The EHIC and GHIC are designed for you to be able to access state/public healthcare – not private healthcare.

They are designed for short stays such as holidays and are not intended for those living abroad in the country.

The cards are also not a replacement for private travel insurance. For example EHIC and GHICs do not cover medical repatriation/evacuation and ski and mountain rescue. Having the card with you on holidays and trips abroad can give you peace of mind that you will be able to access healthcare should you need it and can save you hassle, and stress should you need medical care. It can also the need for you to pay for this treatment up front or after your trip before seeking reimbursement from your insurer.

At Pulse, we can provide comprehensive travel insurance for most eventualities, whether that be corporate risks, leisure travel, touring bands and artists, travel to areas of war or unrest or cover for sports teams/associations.

Having proper travel insurance, along with a GHIC, ensures you will be cared for should you suffer an accident or fall ill whilst you are travelling.

For more information, or to request a quote, please contact: [email protected].


Apply for a GHIC

NHS Overseas Healthcare Service