NEWPORT, England, April 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- More than half of Brits believe the EHIC gives them FREE emergency medical care anywhere in Europe and 9% believe cardholders get FREE medical repatriation.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is a must have for travellers to Europe. But new research commissioned by Gocompare.com reveals that there's considerable confusion amongst Brits as to what benefits the EHIC does and does not provide:
57 per cent of Brits believe that an EHIC entitles them to free emergency medical care anywhere in Europe.
18 per cent of Brits say they know which countries offer free emergency medical care to EHIC holders.
4 per cent believe an EHIC entitles them to free medical care anywhere in the world
14 per cent of Brits have never heard of a European Health Insurance Card or EHIC
9 per cent of British holidaymakers don't buy travel insurance
2 per cent believe that having an EHIC means they don't need travel insurance
The facts - An EHIC entitles the bearer to the same level of state medical care provided to eligible nationals of the country they're in. This means that the treatment may be provided for free or at a reduced cost in all European Economic Area (EEA) countries including Switzerland. The EEA includes all 27 members of the European Union (EU) plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. The EHIC is not accepted in Turkey as it is not a member of the EU or the EEA.
However, the provision of state care varies from country to country and does not mean you can expect to be treated as you would if you visited your UK doctor or hospital. Few EU countries pay the full cost of medical treatment as you'd expect from the NHS. For example, in France a patient may be expected to pay for a consultation with a doctor but will have up to 70% of the cost reimbursed later. The patient may also be expected to contribute to the cost of staying in a hospital overnight.
Also, in the event of an emergency, there is no guarantee that an ambulance will take you to a state hospital for treatment. And if you are taken to a privately run hospital your EHIC may not be of any benefit at all.
It's a little known fact that residents of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not eligible for an EHIC.
There's also some confusion when it comes to paying for medical repatriation, for example 9 per cent of Brits believe that if they have to be brought back to the UK from Europe by air ambulance, they don't have to pay if they have an EHIC
The facts - An EHIC does not cover the cost of medical repatriation from any destination and the Government does not pay for British holidaymakers to be flown home following accidents.
Tourists who need medical treatment and repatriation risk incurring huge bills if they don't have adequate travel insurance. For example, the treatment for a fractured leg and a nurse accompanied flight from Austria to the UK costs approximately £5000 according to the ABI*. And one UK holiday maker received a £49,000 bill** for a coronary bypass operation in the USA and a medical flight home. Without travel insurance individuals or their families have to find the money to pay for such services themselves.
Jeremy Cryer, head of travel insurance at Gocompare.com, commented: "It's possible that the name 'European Health Insurance Card' suggests that it provides a greater level of medical cover than it actually does. An EHIC is a useful thing to carry with you on holiday in Europe but it's no substitute for having proper travel insurance.
"Having an EHIC may help you to access free or, more likely, discounted emergency medical services whilst abroad but it's not a guarantee that you won't have to pay anything. And it certainly won't be any help if you need medical repatriation to the UK, the costs of which can run into thousands of pounds.
"Our advice to holidaymakers is to always arrange suitable travel insurance to ensure you're covered for medical treatment and repatriation if necessary. Take an EHIC with you as well but check what benefits it provides for the country you're travelling in. Some insurers will waive their excess for medical treatment claims if you have used your EHIC but always check the details of the policy so that you fulfil the insurer's conditions for making a valid claim."
Other EHIC information
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) replaced the old E111 form in 2006.
UK residents aged 16 and over can apply for an EHIC for free at https://www.ehic.org.uk. Some websites charge as much as £14.99 to manage your EHIC application but there is no need to pay for an EHIC. Residents of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not eligible for EHICs.
Parents and guardians can apply for EHICs for those aged under 16. Each member of their travel party must have their own EHIC.
Notes to Editors:
Research commissioned by Gocompare.com. Carried out with 2000 UK consumers March 2012 by Vision Critical.
Source for * and ** ABI website. http://www.abi.org.uk
Gocompare.com launched in November 2006 to help people find the right insurance cover at the right price. It was founded by Hayley Parsons OBE who has worked her entire career in the insurance broking and aggregator markets and was the first comparison site to focus on displaying product features rather than just listing prices. It was this philosophy that led to Gocompare.com becoming the first price comparison site to be invited to join the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) in May 2008 and helped force older comparison sites to change their 'quick quote' ways and stop using assumptions to calculate estimated figures.
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