Are you planning to go on a holiday in the European Union (EU) and are wondering if your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will stay valid after Brexit? If you go on holidays abroad in 2020, you can still use your EHIC. The EHIC protects British citizens when they are travelling abroad. It offers a similar level of healthcare as a local resident of the country they are visiting. It is not only valid in the EU, but also is some countries such as Australia or New Zealand. To learn more about the EHIC and where it is valid, please click here >
Future negotiations post-Brexit
Negotiations starting soon will decide what will happen in 2021 and beyond concerning the EHIC. The EHIC still entitles members to receive state-provided medical services if they fall ill or have had an accident in an EU country. And some other countries such as Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland, where the program also applies. There are 27 million EHIC cards in the UK.
This will still cover pre-existing medical conditions, emergency care and routine maternity care. Members who have chronic diseases like those patients who require dialysis will still be able to travel knowing that they will still receive treatments the same way as with the citizens of the country they are visiting.
When the UK formally leaves the European Union on 31 January 2020, a transition period will start and it will last until 31 December 2020. During that time, your EHIC will remain valid. In terms of the Brexit deal, this said transition may possibly be extended for one or two more years, but this has been ruled out already by the UK government.
What happens after 2020?
The future of EHIC depends on the negotiations between the EU and the UK. It was said that the UK government was “seeking agreements with countries on health care arrangements for UK Nationals”. The government has issued a detailed country by country guidance about the health care service when travelling abroad, in case there will be no deal to continue EHIC. For those travelling, to cover health care, it is recommended that you buy travel insurance, “just as you would if visiting a non-EU country”.
Healthcare deals with Non-EU Countries
The United Kingdom has reciprocal health insurance deals with some non-EU countries. For example, these are New Zealand and Australia, where visitors receive urgent treatment at a lesser cost and most of the time for free. Which means, visitors will be treated as though they are residents in the country they are in, but unlike the EHIC, this does not cover pre-existing conditions.
These deals will not be affected by Brexit or future EU-UK negotiations. As far as we are concerned, Brexit will not affect the EHIC, but some uncertainties remain after the transition period. Therefore we will keep updating this article each time we receive new information. Please comment below if you have any question about EHIC and Brexit. You can also reach us via phone or email.