There are benefits to having travel insurance even if you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (most commonly referred to as the EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Understand what the EHIC and GHIC are, and how they might come in handy if you become unexpectedly ill when you’re travelling.
What is a GHIC?
This is the UK Global Health Insurance Card, which gives you access to state healthcare in the EU if you need it. The GHIC is the post-Brexit alternative to the EHIC.
More information about the GHIC and any restrictions and limitations on it can be found on the NHS website.
What is the EHIC?
EHIC is short for the European Health Insurance Card. It’s a card that lets you benefit from the health care arrangements that exist between countries within the European Union (EU) and Switzerland. Since Brexit, EHIC holders can continue to use the card until it expires.
More information about the EHIC can be found on the UK government website.
What do the GHIC and EHIC cover?
Both cards cover emergency or necessary medical care through a state healthcare system, such as routine medical care for pre-existing conditions. It lets you get treatment for the same cost as someone who lives in the country you’re visiting. Treatment might be free or it might come with a cost, but it will be much cheaper than it would be without the card.
The cards don’t cover elective or private medical treatment. More information about what the cards cover can be found on the UK government website.
What restrictions are there on the GHIC and EHIC?
The EHIC and GHIC may not be valid in every European country, and there may be restrictions on what it can be used for in some places like Switzerland. More information can be found on the UK government website.
Tips for travelling with a health condition
The EHIC and GHIC are useful whether you have an existing medical condition or not. Both cards cover emergency or necessary medical care, such as routine medical care for pre-existing conditions. This might include dialysis, oxygen treatment or routine maternity care or check ups for pre-existing medical conditions. Whether the treatment is necessary is decided by the healthcare provider in the country you’re visiting.
If you’re likely to need access to treatment for a pre-existing medical condition while you’re away, such as dialysis or oxygen therapy, be sure to talk to your doctor in the UK before you travel. You may be required to pre-arrange appointments.
If you’re planning to travel with medications, you might need a letter to show at the airport or customs if your medicine includes a ‘controlled drug’. If this is the case, your doctor will be able to help. Where possible and with the agreement of your medical practitioner, you should travel with plenty of extra medication in case of travel delays.
The NHS website offers additional information how to use your card, and where you can or cannot use it.
For a little more help when it comes to choosing your policy, have a look at our guide to taking out travel insurance when you have a pre-existing medical condition.
Do I need travel insurance if I hold an EHIC/GHIC?
The EHIC and GHIC are not replacements for travel insurance, and bear in mind that they can only be used in certain countries. You may end up with medical expenses that aren’t covered by the EHIC/GHIC arrangement, and having a travel insurance policy could help cover those unexpected costs.
Travel insurance also offers cover for more than costs of medical treatments. It may also pay for next of kin to fly out and stay with you if you're seriously ill, or repatriation to get you home. Depending on your level of cover, it can help with things like breakages, lost luggage, travel disruption and cancellation. Find out more about our Travel Insurance and what cover options may be available to you.
If you’re travelling outside of the EU, your destination might have a reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK. Find out more information on the UK government website.
Confused by all the technical terms? Check out our travel insurance glossary.
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Tesco Bank Travel Insurance is arranged and administered by Rock Insurance Services Limited and underwritten by Inter Partner Assistance S.A.
The content on this page aims to offer an informative introduction to the subject matter but does not constitute expert financial advice specific to your own situation. All facts and figures were correct at time of publication and were compiled using a range of sources.