Formal negotiations for Brexit are well and truly underway, and since the announcement in June 2016 that Britain will be leaving the European Union (EU) the fate of the EHIC has been at the forefront of many traveller’s minds, especially those with medical conditions.
Formally known as the E111 card, the EHIC entitles British holidaymakers that are travelling to a European Economic Area (EAA) or EU country to receive the same medical care that is available to local citizens either at a reduced cost or for free.
For now, the EHIC is still valid and will remain so until Britain concludes negotiations and officially withdraws from the EU.
But what will happen post-Brexit?
The honest answer is, no one knows yet. It is possible the EHIC or a similar scheme will still be valid in Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland as these countries are part of the EEA and not members of the EU. Another option is the UK will be able to negotiate with the EU to remain in the EHIC scheme, with the argument that millions of Europeans visit Britain and receive our healthcare too.
If Britain are made to withdraw from the EHIC scheme, many British holidaymakers may be uncertain about travelling to Europe through fear of facing huge medical bills should they sustain an injury or fall ill.
So, what does the future hold for holidays to Europe?
In all the frenzy, let’s not forget about travel insurance. Your travel insurance is there to protect you should the worst happen, and with the majority covering for medical expenses as standard, including cover for existing medical conditions – provided you have told your travel insurance provider about them, you can travel with peace of mind that should you become injured or unwell abroad you will not be left out of pocket.
So, if we do leave the EHIC Scheme, will Travel Insurance prices increase?
It is possible that travel insurance prices could increase, as insurers could see an increase in the cost of medical bills without the EHIC discounts. However, the increases definitely won’t be as expensive as covering your own medical bills if something goes wrong abroad!
Without travel insurance you will be facing medical treatment abroad alone. Not only will your insurer’s emergency assistance team advise and ensure you receive the treatment you need in a suitable facility, they will arrange for you to come home if you cannot travel back as planned – as well as covering the extortionate cost that could accompany all of the above.
Spending a few extra pounds when buying our travel insurance will certainly save us a small fortune should the worst happen, and we can go on holiday knowing we won’t have to re-mortgage our homes following a poolside accident – regardless of whether the EHIC remains.