Every year more than 45 million people from the UK head overseas for holidays, business trips and to study. Although none of us like to think about the possibility of falling ill or being involved in an accident while abroad, it is always a possibility. Thankfully, there are two options available to UK residents; travel insurance and the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
How does the EHIC card work?
The EHIC was once known as the E111 form, but this name was phased out in 2006. The card provides the holder to medical treatment in all countries within the European Union (EU) and also those with the European Free Trade area, including Switzerland, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway.
The treatment will be given on the same terms as residents of the country, with care often free or at a lower rate for those in possession of an EHIC. An EHIC card is valid for up to 5 years and can be renewed 6 months before it is due to expire. A valid card can be used by an individual to access state medical care, in situations where the treatment cannot wait until the person returns to the UK.
The EHIC is designed for emergency situations, although it will cover existing medical issues and standard maternity care appointments. The key thing to remember is that the EHIC is not designed to cover appointments which are made with the sole intention of accessing healthcare in another country.
Does the whole family use the same EHIC card?
EHIC cards are individually assigned to each member of the family, so each person will require their own card. A parent or guardian will need to apply for cards for each of their dependents, which is quick and easy to do. Simply provide your own details during the application, then enter each of the dependent’s details one by one. You will need to provide the following information for each person in the family:
2) Date of birth
3) NHS number of National Insurance number
How to renew EHIC cards for each person in the family
If some members of the family already hold an EHIC, you will still need to complete renewal forms for each person in the family. Only those which are due to expire within the next six months will be issued when you complete the application form. By applying at the same time, the family will be linked within the EHIC system which will speed up the process if an EHIC card is used.
If any details need to be amended for a member of the family, you will need their personal identification number (PIN). This can be found on the front of the card alongside the persons date of birth. If you do not know the PIN, you may not be able to complete the renewal online.
What happens if the families EHIC cards do not arrive in time?
If any person in the family is travelling to the EEA or Switzerland but their EHIC has not arrived yet, they will still be covered. Each person’s EHIC cover will begin on the day the application is made, with online applications taking just 7 days to process.
If a person within the family travels without the card and requires medical treatment, they will need to complete an application form for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC). The medical centre will want to see proof of EHIC entitlement, and the PRC will provide this.
If a dependent is unable to apply for their own PRC, it is possible for anyone to apply on their behalf, if they have the required information:
1) National Insurance number or an NHS number
3) UK address
4) Date of birth
5) Name of the medical centre
6) An email address for the department providing the treatment
Each person within the family will need their own PRC, which can be obtained by contacting the Overseas Healthcare Services department at the NHS Business Services Authority on: 0191 2181999. The office is open Monday to Friday, from 8am until 6pm. If you require a PRC outside of these hours, the medical centre should be able to provide you with the treatment as long as the PRC is obtained as soon as possible once the office opens.
Is every person in a family entitled to an EHIC card?
Each person’s eligibility is assessed individually, with their entitlement based on their insurability under EU law rather than their nationality. In the UK, there is a residency-based medical system, with eligibility based on present or past payment of UK taxes and National Insurance contributions.
Each member of the family which is ordinarily resident within the UK and not insured in another EU country, will normally be eligible for a UK issued EHIC card. However, there are some circumstances where the parents, guardians or children may be entitled to an EHIC even though they reside in another EEA country.
If any of the following situations apply, the parents/guardians within a family and their dependents may be entitled to a UK EHIC card:
1) The family is in receipt of a UK benefit or a UK state pension and has been issued with an S1 form.
2) A parent/guardian has been sent to work, or is a frontier worker in another EEA country or Switzerland, but normally resides within the UK.
However, within these examples each member of the family will only be entitled to a UK EHIC, if they are not covered by the EU country which they are living in.
If a family member is not resident in another EEA country or in Switzerland, they may still be entitled to an EHIC card. Although, you will need to provide evidence of their eligibility with your families EHIC application form. This should be sent to:
Overseas Healthcare Services
NHS Business Services Authority
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
To find out more about EHIC cards for each person in the family, the eligibility criteria, or how to apply, please contact our knowledgeable EHIC team today.