The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives residents of the United Kingdom access to free or reduced cost medical services in 30 participating European nations. The European Health Insurance scheme is part of the NHS and covers all qualifying UK individuals who have applied for and hold a valid EHIC. Cards are issued to the individual, so every citizen who travels abroad will need their own EHIC. While carrying the card is not mandatory, it is strongly recommended in order to avoid high treatment costs if an emergency were to occur.
Each child in your family will need their own EHIC – right down to the baby. Every person under 16 will need to complete the child’s application or have a parent complete it on their behalf, depending on age and ability. Your partner should also ensure they have a valid EHIC, and so should any other members of your travelling party. Cards are non-transferable: even if you hold a valid card yourself, you cannot take another person for free treatment using it. In the event of a school trip to the continent, parents will need to ensure that their child has received their EHIC before they travel.
Even if you have travel insurance for yourself and your family, the EHIC is still very important. This EU health card cover gives you access to treatment at a public hospital or clinic, right when you need it, preventing delays in care. It ensures that you can be treated for free or at vastly reduced rates, so you do not get stuck with hefty medical bills. Unlike travel insurance, you pay nothing for your ongoing EHIC cover and just a small nominal fee for the admin costs at application. However, it does not reimburse your financial losses relating to any accident or illness and it cannot deal with incurred costs such as early flights home or recuperative care: this is where your insurance broker can help and advise you. It is advised to consider taking out private travel insurance for your whole family, as well as keeping your EHIC up to date.
Family EHIC compliance is especially important, because little ones need the best care at all times. If you are taking your first family holiday or heading overseas for the first time, you will be keen to make it a safe trip. Sometimes accidents and illnesses do happen, and it is important that, should an emergency occur, you know where you can turn. When you have valid EHIC cover across your whole family, you can relax and enjoy your trip together. Make sure that you keep everyone’s details up to date with regular audits of the family’s cards, and be sure to apply for renewal in good time if your details change. Cards expire after five years, so keep track of each child’s details as they grow and be sure to consider card renewals whenever you book a trip to the continent.