Two-thirds of United Kingdom citizens do not have either a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), while three-quarters of the British population claim they do not understand what health insurance cards cover when travelling.
A report published by Direct Line Travel has revealed that a number of UK nationals concerned, approximately 32 million, either claim they do not hold an EHIC or GHIC or are unsure about it. This means that seven million people more than the previous year either don’t have such a health insurance card or are not aware if they have it or not.
Commenting on the report, the Head of Direct Line Tom Bishop said that the research points out that millions of British nationals are putting their health and wealth at risk, traveling throughout Europe without any kind of insurance.
“We hope this year could finally see us return to holidaying abroad without the burden of restrictions, but it’s worrying to see the GHIC gap is growing, so we urge anyone traveling overseas to make sure they, and their family, have all got one before their trip,” he said.
A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is a type of insurance which permits a traveler to receive state-provided healthcare in any of the other EU countries as well as the non-EU Schengen Area countries – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Due to UK’s exit from the EU on December 31, 2020, only UK nationals who are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement are eligible to obtain a new EHIC. The existing cards are, however, valid until the date they expire, which is printed in their front.
Those who are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement can obtain a UK Global Health Insurance Card, which has been created in order to replace EHIC. The GHIC is available for all UK nationals, as well as citizens born to parents who were settled in the UK before January 1, 2021.
Both cards can be obtained free of charge.
Listing out the reasons why such a low share of people hold such health insurance cards, Direct Line says that one of the reasons may be that UK nationals are still not aware that EHIC has now been replaced by GHIC. According to Direct Line, another reason might be the fact that 76 per cent of those surveyed don’t clearly understand what health insurance cards cover when travelling, with 18 per cent of the respondent mistakenly believing that they must pay a cost of £9.30 to replace their EHIC cards with a GHIC card.
Travelers to Europe are also highly suggested to purchase the right travel insurance in order for them to be able to receive the best medical care without the costs being a burden. Travel insurance companies such as AXA other European Assistance provide travel insurance covering the whole of the EU.
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