Two-thirds of UK citizens do not have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), while three-quarters of the UK population say they do not understand what health cards are. health insurance cover when traveling.
A report by Direct Line Travel found that a worrying number of UK nationals, around 32 million, say they do not hold an EHIC or GHIC or are unsure. This means that seven million more people than the previous year do not have such a health insurance card or do not know whether they have one or not.
Commenting on the report, Direct Line chief Tom Bishop said the research underscores that millions of British nationals are putting their health and wealth at risk, traveling across Europe without any sort of insurance.
“We hope that this year can finally see us return to vacationing abroad without the burden of restrictions, but it is worrying to see the GHIC gap widening, so we urge all those traveling abroad to ensure they and their family all have one before their trip,” he said.
A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is a type of insurance that allows a traveler to receive state-provided health care in any of the other EU countries as well as in non-member countries of the Schengen area – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Due to the UK’s exit from the EU on December 31, 2020, only UK nationals covered by the Withdrawal Agreement are eligible to obtain a new EHIC. Existing cards are however valid until their expiration date, which is printed on their front.
Those not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement can obtain a UK Global Health Insurance Card, which was created to replace the EHIC. The GHIC is available to all UK nationals, as well as citizens born to parents who settled in the UK before January 1, 2021.
Both cards can be obtained for free.
Listing the reasons why such a low proportion of people hold such health insurance cards, Direct Line says one reason may be that UK nationals are still unaware that the EHIC has now been superseded by the GHIC . Another reason, according to Direct Line, could be that 76% of respondents do not clearly understand what health insurance cards cover when traveling, with 18% of respondents mistakenly believing they have to pay a cost. £9.30 to replace their EHIC cards with a GHIC card.
It is also highly recommended that travelers to Europe get the right travel insurance so that they can receive the best medical care without the costs being a burden. Travel insurance companies such as AXA and Europe Support provide travel insurance covering WHOthe of the EU.
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