Newsbeat guide to... European health insurance card

30/05/13

EHIC

The European commission is thinking about taking legal action after some British citizens were turned away from Spanish hospitals, despite holding a valid European health insurance card.

A number of patients have been asked to pay on the spot or give travel insurance details before receiving any kind of health care.

Travel insurers say they have also been sent bills for thousands of euros which, without insurance, would be up to the patient to pay.

The EHIC card replaced the E111 in 2006. The E111 is no longer valid even if the expiry date has not been reached.

Care and prescription costs vary from country to country. See what they cost in individual European countries.

Many rely on their EHIC card but what exactly does it cover you for?

What does it cover?

The EHIC will cover you up to the same standard of healthcare received by a local resident, not including recovery, but is not a replacement for travel insurance.

It will cover all healthcare provided up to your planned return date from the country at a reduced rate and is only free in some cases.

NHS guide to healthcare abroad.

If you require oxygen or kidney dialysis for a pre-existing condition it must be booked from a UK doctor before you travel.

It will also cover routine care for an existing condition as well as emergency treatment.

For example, if you're on holiday and you break your arm, it covers you until the end of your holiday.

If you don't have your card with you, you should still be covered provided the hospital can access your details.

Where will it cover me?

The card covers any country in the EEA (European economic area).

See a full list of countries.

The list of countries also includes Lichtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.

What won't my EHIC cover?

Mountain rescue

It will not get you off a mountain or get you home, which is why buying travel insurance is equally important.

Any recovery by mountain rescue is not covered by the card.

For skiing, mountaineering or any extreme sport you must either be very rich or have good insurance.

If you're too ill to travel and need an emergency flight back to the UK, your EHIC will not cover you.

Any travel specifically for health care will not be covered.

Unexpected childbirth is covered but travelling to another country to give birth is not.

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