As with travelling anywhere abroad, there are a number of steps people have to take in order to leave the UK on safe and legal grounds.
While it is a situation nobody wants to end up in, it is important to make sure all bases are covered, including healthcare, before you head away on a flight.
There are two types of cover available in the UK, including:
- a UK Global Health Insurance Card (UK GHIC)
- a UK European Health Insurance Card (UK EHIC), if you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement
For most people, the UK GHIC replaces the existing UK EHIC for new applications from travellers.
According to the NHS, there is no deadline to apply for a GHIC or EHIC. This means if you have an existing EHIC, you can use it up until the day it expires.
However, you can apply for a new card up to 6 months before your current card expires.
it comes as Martin Lewis has warned Brits to check their passport and EHIC cards now, in order to have some leeway if your documents may not be valid. He warned that 5.4million European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) are due to expire this year.
If yours is one of them, then you’ll need to get it replaced for a GHIC which is “basically the same thing”.
What is a UK GHIC OR EHIC used for in terms of healthcare?
According to the NHS, people can use their card to access necessary state-provided healthcare if they are visiting an EU country or Switzerland.
This healthcare is deemed as necessary only if it cannot wait until you return to the UK. Whether treatment is necessary is decided by the healthcare provider in the country you’re visiting.
Medically necessary healthcare includes examples like:
- Visits to the emergency department and treatment
- Treatment for pre-existing or long-term medical conditions
- Routine care for pre-existing conditions that require monitoring
- Maternity care, as long as you haven’t travelled abroad to give birth
- Oxygen therapy and kidney dialysis
People will need to pre-arrange some treatments with a relevant healthcare provider in the country they are visiting – like chemotherapy or dialysis.
Not all state healthcare is free within the EU and Switzerland and so you may have to pay for services that you would get for free on the NHS.
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How do I apply for a UK GHIC or EHIC or renew my card?
You can apply for a UK GHIC or EHIC through the NHS website here.
You can check you are eligible first, then apply using your National Insurance number and if required, your NHS number as well.
The NHS added: “A UK EHIC or UK GHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance. It may not cover all health costs and never covers repatriation costs.
“You should make sure that you have travel insurance as well as a UK EHIC or UK GHIC.”
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