Health · Notes from West London · Word of the week

Word of the week: EHIC

The EHIC, or “European Health Insurance Card”, entitles those of us who live in the UK to “reduced cost (or sometimes free) state-provided healthcare where treatment becomes medically necessary during a temporary visit to other countries of the European Economic Area or Switzerland”. I quote directly from the letter that accompanied our new cards when they arrived last week.

Our old cards expired in 2018 but I didn’t apply to renew them until 10 days ago, the day we booked our flights to Spain for later this month. The online renewal process was straightforward and advised us that the replacements would arrive within 10 working days. They were with us within three working days: very efficient, and one less thing to think about.

I have never had to make use of the entitlements provided by the EHIC, either for me or the children, but they give me peace of mind when travelling to the rest of Europe. During the renewal process I noted that there was no mention of the uncertainty regarding the UK’s place in the EU, and the expiry date on our new cards is July 2024. There is no mention on the accompanying letter about the possibility of the cards being invalid after, say, 31 October 2019, when the UK is due to exit from the European Union, “do or die” according to some politicians. The organization named at the top of the letter is “NHS Business Services Authority”. Maybe they know something that the rest of us do not know, yet.


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