European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) renewals have dropped by 23% as the United Kingdom (UK) prepares to leave the European Union (EU). Indeed, the number of people holding a valid EHIC has dropped by around 450,000 since 2018. Moreover, renewals have been slower than usual during the first 6 months of 2019. However, it is still very important to travel with a valid EHIC and adequate travel insurance.
What is an EHIC?
The EHIC allows UK citizen to receive medical assistance in case they need it while traveling abroad as a local resident would. Most of the time, the medical treatments provided will be free of charge, or at a reduced charge. To know more about the EHIC, where it is valid and what it covers, please click here > Even if all eventualities are not covered – cruises, ski rescue, air ambulance are not covered by the EHIC – the card offers peace of mind.
To be fully covered, we recommend you to also get a valid private travel insurance policy. Some insurers will ask you to have a valid EHIC to be able to get travel insurance.
Brexit delay and holidays
Initially, the UK was supposed to exit the EU in March 2019. This exit date has now been postponed to 31 October 2019. In July, newly elected European Commission President Ursula Van der Leyen has confirmed she is ready to grant an even longer extension to allow the UK to exit in an orderly manner. But since the Referendum in 2016, EHIC renewals have slowed down. Indeed, there are uncertainties about the cover offered by the card after Brexit. Will it still be valid? To learn more about what we know so far, please check our EHIC & Brexit guide >
What is sure is that the EU health insurance card will still be working this summer. Therefore we strongly recommend you to not let your EHIC expire without planning to renew it. The card is valid for 5 years: check when yours expire regularly. To check if your card is still valid, check at the bottom right of the card. More than 5 million cars are due to expire in 2019!
How can we explain the drop in EHIC renewals?
The numbers show that EHIC renewals are at their lowest since 2011. Roughly, it is only half the figure before the EU referendum in 2016. Brexit uncertainty cannot be considered as the only factor explaining the drop in renewals, but it is arguably the most important.
What is sure is that the card is still valid until the exit of the UK of the EU. 2019 summer holidays will be covered and there are chances that some arrangements and deals are found after Brexit. What this means is that the UK will probably sign reciprocal healthcare deals with the members of the EU.
Renew your EHIC
What is going to happen after Brexit is still unclear. However, what is confirmed is that the EHIC cover is still operational until the official date of Brexit. Therefore, if you are planning to go on holidays this summer, we strongly recommend you to renew your card if it is about to expire. As a reminder, every member of your family needs its own card. The EHIC is free when applying from the NHS website. We offer a submission service in exchange for a modest me. To start your application, please click here >