All we know about the new health insurance card after the Brexit change
Following the EU referendum, there is uncertainty over whether free health care will be provided to British travelers to Europe after the Brexit transition phase.
It was feared that mutual medical treatment would end for British citizens – those with a particular concern for older travelers, or those with pre-existing medical conditions, who used the card as an alternative to travel insurance if they felt the premium was too high.
On Christmas Day, the government announced that arrangements would be made for British travelers to receive health care and that an alternative to the much-used European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) was being developed.
As much as there is about Brexit, very little is available. But this is all we know so far.
A Brief History of Ehik
British travelers have long benefited from free or very limited medical treatment in some other countries – initially through mutual agreements and then, after the UK joined the then EEC in 1973, with a deal across Europe.
For decades the document for travelers was known as E111, and it was obtained from Social Security offices.
In 2004, the EU introduced Ehik as a card proving the right to medical care just like local people. It is available free of charge to EU citizens, including those residing in the UK.
What happens after Brexit?
Burial at the end EU-UK Brexit Agreement – If you want to read more on pages 1,143 and 1,243 – details of a new UK-specific health insurance card – it will be introduced at some point in the future.
The UK government has pointed out that this will be called the “Global Health Insurance Card (KIG)” – in order to differentiate it from Ehik, it will be very similar.
How to get one?
You can’t. The government has not yet provided further information. It does not publish any Ehiks other than EU citizens residing in the UK; British students studying in the European Union; And some British pensioners living in the EU and their families.
What do I do in the meantime?
The EU says: “If necessary, you will receive the treatment you need to continue your vacation without returning home for treatment.”
If you already have an EHIC, it will continue to be valid until its expiration date. If yours is over, or you have never had one, you still have the right to care.
For treatment abroad, you must apply for a Temporary Alternative Certificate (PRC). This ensures the NHS that you are eligible for health care.
To get one, you, or a colleague or family member, should call the NHS Overseas Health Services at work hours (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm) +44 191 218 1999.
You must have your national insurance number and the name of the hospital or other medical facility that is currently treating you. The certificate will then be emailed to doctors (or, strangely, faxed).
What treatment is included?
All emergency treatment including problems arising from pregnancy – but not if you went abroad especially to give birth.
In addition, pre-arranged medical treatment for specific conditions – especially renal dialysis, oxygen therapy and chemotherapy – will be covered as before.
Note that “EU27” only covers – that is, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are members of the Schengen area, but not in the European Union.
Does this agreement include medical refunds?
No. This is for easy access to medical treatment. There is no provision to take you home for free if you become seriously ill or have a serious accident. Only travel insurance will cover it.
An added benefit of the decision to pursue mutual health care is that insurance premiums are unlikely to rise significantly.
Will the new kick really be universal?
Almost certainly not. The idea that taxpayers should have bank control over health care for British citizens in remote areas such as the Maldives or Hawaii is, frankly, ridiculous.
Its “global” character is expected to be limited to early mutual agreements: basically Australia, New Zealand, Gibraltar, the non-EU countries of former Yugoslavia, the scattering of British territories in the Caribbean and the distant Atlantic possessions of the Falklands and the brave St. Helena.