Brits will now be able to apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), the government announced this week.
Under Britain’s new agreement with the EU, UK residents’ rights to emergency and medically necessary healthcare will continue when travelling in the EU. This includes medically necessary treatment for a pre-existing or chronic condition.
Current European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) are valid as long as they are in date and people can continue to use these when travelling to the EU.
The public only need to apply for their new GHIC when their current EHIC expires. Both cards will offer equivalent protection for emergency and medically necessary healthcare needs when in the EU on a temporary stay, which includes holiday, study and business travel.
The new GHIC card is free to obtain from the official GHIC website. People should apply at least two weeks before they plan to travel to ensure their card arrives on time.
Minister for Health Edward Argar said: “Our deal with the EU ensures the right for our citizens to access necessary healthcare on their holidays and travels to countries in the EU will continue.
“The GHIC is a key element of the UK’s future relationship with the EU and will provide certainty and security for all UK residents.”
Cover for emergency and medically necessary healthcare is part of a wider healthcare agreement struck with the EU that will see continued cooperation on healthcare for UK residents.
If a UK resident is travelling without a card, they are still entitled to necessary healthcare and should contact the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA) (which covers the whole of the UK), who can arrange for payment should they require treatment when abroad.
EU member state EHICs will continue to be accepted by the NHS.
Alongside the deal with the EU, the UK is open to agreeing further reciprocal healthcare arrangements that can support UK residents when they travel.
It is advised that anyone travelling overseas, whether to the EU or elsewhere in the world, should always take out comprehensive travel insurance.
The new GHIC card is free to obtain from the official GHIC website.