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GHIC is the new EHIC: What you need to know

Posted on January 6, 2021 by Vicky Smith
Woman waiting in airport

The Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) has been announced as the replacement for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) post-Brexit.

This is great news for UK citizens as it means you will continue to receive free or discounted medical care when you are visiting the EU.

The government has also confirmed that anyone who already has an EHIC can continue to use it until it expires, even following the UK’s formal separation from the EU on January 1 this year.

Once your current EHIC expires, you can simply apply for a GHIC for free via the NHS website.

Brexit-EHIC Uncertainty

There had been some uncertainty during the Brexit transition year as to what would replace the EHIC. This had sparked fears that holidaymakers who travel to the EU without insurance may have no safety net to fall back should they need access to emergency healthcare.

It also raised questions about how insurance policies would adapt with the EHIC. But thankfully the launch of GHICs this month offers a clear solution for travellers.

What is a GHIC?

The GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) is the UK’s replacement for the EHIC following Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Like the EHIC, it covers you for treatment at state-run hospitals and GPs (not private), at a reduced cost or for free, when travelling in the EU.

It’s worth adding that some UK residents may still be able to apply for a EHIC. This includes British State Pensioners who live in the EU and their families and EU nationals who are normally resident in the UK. You can find out more on the gov.uk website.

What does the GHIC cover?

The GHIC, like an EHIC, covers you for emergency medical treatment when you’re in the EU. It covers the treatment of a chronic or pre-existing medical condition that becomes necessary during your visit.

The GHIC can also cover oxygen and kidney dialysis, but you will need to pre-book these treatments before you depart for your trip.

It’s also important to remember that each EU country’s healthcare system is different and you may have to contribute to some of the cost of your care – like locals do.

No GHIC cover for Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland

However, the EHIC and GHIC are not like for like. The GHIC does not provide you with medical cover when travelling in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, like the EHIC used to.

If you are visiting those countries then the government recommend taking out travel insurance with health cover, just as you would when travelling outside of the EU.

Do I still need travel insurance with a GHIC?

Yes, you’ll still need a travel insurance policy with medical cover to travel to the EU, even if you have a GHIC. The GHIC, just like the EHIC, does not cover you for rescue or repatriation costs, or if you are on a cruise.

The gov.uk website recommends all UK travellers to take out appropriate travel insurance policy when abroad.

Even with travel insurance, some policies will insist that you have a valid GHIC to provide cover or waive the excess if you have one.

How do I apply for a GHIC?

Applying for a GHIC is easy! Simply visit the NHS website and fill out the form.

One very important thing to remember is that the GHIC is free. Avoid any website that asks you to pay a fee for a GHIC and only apply via the NHS website.

Vicky Smith

by Vicky Smith

Vicky Smith is a journalist and freelance content creator. She loves to travel with her family. Her favourite place in the world is a sandy beach in Cornwall.