What will happen to the EHIC after Brexit?
By: fishadmin, On: 31 July 2017
The European Health Insurance card (EHIC) allows UK citizens to access medical care and treatment for free or at a reduced cost while visiting countries within the European Economic Area (EEA.) Although it doesn’t replace travel insurance, one in 10 people have used the card while travelling abroad.
However, with the UK government currently undertaking negotiations to leave the European Union (EU), its future in Britain is at stake, leaving lots of people wondering what will happen to the EHIC and the cover it provides once Brexit has taken place.
While we can’t be certain at this stage, it’s likely that what happens to the EHIC will depend on whether or not the UK will separate from the EEA.
The EEA is made up of all countries within the European Union, as well as Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, and allows for “the free movement of persons, goods and services” within the European Single Market, according to the EEA agreement.
While there’s no question that we will leave the EU, Britain could remain in the EEA. Norway and Iceland are non-EU countries, but are both members of the EEA and therefore still accept the card.
After Brexit, the UK could adopt this policy and EHIC cards would continue to be valid for UK citizens – but with Prime Minister Theresa May currently fighting for a hard Brexit, it is unlikely that the UK will remain part of the EEA.
However, there is a chance that a hard Brexit might not spell the end for the EHIC in the UK. The cards are also valid in Switzerland, a non-EU and non-EEA country, which means that even if Britain leaves both the EU and the EEA, it is still a possibility that the EHIC would remain available to UK citizens.
At the moment, we can only speculate on the future of the EHIC. What we do know is that, while Brexit negotiations continue to take place, your EHIC will remain valid. You will still be able to use your card as normal while travelling within EU and EEA countries, as well as Switzerland, until Britain officially leaves the EU.
As always though, it’s important to remember that the EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance because it does not guarantee free medical care and is subject to the regulations of the country it is used in.
It also doesn’t cover you for replacement carers, mobility and disability equipment, lost or stolen items or delayed or cancelled flights. For these reasons, it is always important to purchase travel insurance to be used to accompany your EHIC.
Fish Insurance provides specialist travel insurance which covers a wide range of medical conditions, emergency replacement of prescription medicine, mobility and disability equipment protection and more.
For more information on our travel insurance policies, click here or call a member of the friendly Fish team on 0333 331 3770.