The European Health Insurance Card Withdrawal Agreement: What it Means for Travelers
For many years, travelers within the European Union have been able to take advantage of reciprocal healthcare arrangements, which have allowed them to access state-provided healthcare in any EU member state using a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). However, with the UK`s departure from the EU, this arrangement is set to change.
The UK and EU have negotiated a Withdrawal Agreement, which contains provisions for healthcare. Under the agreement, the UK will continue to honor EHICs issued to UK residents until the end of 2020. After that date, the UK will no longer participate in the EHIC scheme. This means that UK residents will no longer be entitled to use their EHICs to access healthcare in the EU, and EU citizens will no longer be able to use their EHICs to access healthcare in the UK.
The Withdrawal Agreement also includes provisions for the replacement of the EHIC scheme in the UK by a new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This card will provide similar benefits to the EHIC, allowing UK residents to access healthcare when traveling to EU member states, but it will also cover other countries outside the EU. It is not yet clear when the GHIC will become available, but it is expected to be launched in early 2021.
It is worth noting that the EHIC and GHIC are not a substitute for travel insurance. While they provide access to state-provided healthcare, they do not cover all possible medical expenses, and they do not provide coverage for other travel-related issues like lost luggage, flight cancellations, or personal accidents. Travelers are advised to purchase comprehensive travel insurance before embarking on any trip, regardless of the destination.
In conclusion, the European Health Insurance Card withdrawal agreement is set to change the way UK residents access healthcare in the EU. The EHIC scheme will be replaced by a new Global Health Insurance Card, which will provide similar benefits but will cover a wider range of countries. Travelers are advised to obtain comprehensive travel insurance to ensure they are fully protected while traveling abroad. As always, it is important to stay informed about any changes to travel regulations and healthcare arrangements to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.