The European Health Insurance Card took over from the E111 from January 1st 2006. There is now a standardised card to cover each country. The card is used to provide free or reduced-cost medical treatment in the event of illness whilst in the European Union. It can also cover treatment for certain pre-existing illnesses, such as diabetes. Maternity care is also covered and kidney dialysis and oxygen therapy can be covered by prior arrangement.
The cards are very easy to use. If you are taken ill in the EU and need to have medical treatment, you just show the card to the local health officials. Then, in almost every case, you will be treated for free as you are on the National Health Service. You must be aware, though, that you would not be covered for treatment at a private health centre. This can cause a problem as at some resorts you are collected by private ambulance and taken to a private clinic.
This is why it is advisable to take out a Travel Insurance Policy before you travel . Your travel insurance would then cover the cost incurred. Also, The European Health Card will not cover the cost of repatriation if you need to be flown back to the UK because of an accident or illness.
The EHIC is valid in:
Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.
The quickest and easiest way to apply for the EHIC is online , and your card will be with you within seven days.
Or by calling 0845 606 2030
By post, using the form available at your local Post Office
The EHIC is issued free of charge.