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Introducing the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)

Portrait of Ian Holmes

UK residents can now apply for the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which will provide them with cover for “necessary healthcare” from state services in the European Union.

The card replaces the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), still referred to as the E111 in some quarters, although that form was phased out in 2005!

What does the GHIC cover?

“Necessary healthcare” is healthcare that becomes medically necessary during your stay in the EU which you couldn’t reasonably wait to receive until your return to the UK.

Necessary healthcare includes the following: –

  • Emergency treatment and visits to Accident & Emergency
  • Treatment for long-term or pre-existing medical conditions
  • Routine medical care for pre-existing conditions that need monitoring
  • Routine maternity care, as long as you’re not going abroad to give birth
  • Oxygen and kidney dialysis

Certain treatments e.g. kidney dialysis or chemotherapy will need to be arranged in advance of your trip with the state healthcare provider in the country you are visiting.

What the GHIC doesn’t cover

  • GHIC will not cover you for treatment in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland
  • You are not guaranteed 100% reimbursement in all countries, as some state healthcare systems require you to pay percentage of the treatment’s cost, known as a co-payment.
  • Healthcare costs in private medical facilities
  • Mountain rescue in ski resorts
  • Medical repatriation flights back to the UK

Warning from the NHS

The NHS warns that the GHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and that you should take out travel insurance that covers your healthcare needs, before you travel.

Applying for a GHIC

The good news is that the GHIC is free and existing EHIC holders won’t need to apply for a GHIC until their current card expires.

You can apply for your free Global Health Insurance Card via the NHS website where you can also find full information.

It takes around 10 days for a GHIC to be issued, so it is best to apply at least two weeks prior to your date of travel.

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