Does the EHIC have a future post-Brexit?

Uncertainty continues to shroud Brexit and with it the future of numerous benefits that many British travellers take for granted.

One such issue relates to the European Health Insurance Card and at this stage, it is still unclear what will happen after 29th March.

The card enables travellers to access healthcare and to pay the same amount as locals for the privilege, significantly reducing the likelihood of facing astronomic medical bills.

Not only is the card free, but it is valid in all EU countries, while also covering care in Switzerland, Iceland and Norway for a period of five years.

Under the terms of a potential Brexit deal, a number of EU laws could still apply, including those that cover the EHIC.

Meanwhile, a no deal scenario could see emergency measures enforced while a long-term solution is developed – however, this would likely see insurance premiums rise.

This is because insurance firms would need to cover the additional costs associated with medical claims from travellers within the EU.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care revealed that the EHIC scheme will run until at least the end of 2020 under the Withdrawal Agreement and that there is an “expectation” that it will continue beyond that.

However, they also stressed the importance of having adequate travel insurance in place to provide an added layer of protection when travelling overseas to European destinations.

The Brexit White Paper from mid-2018 revealed that the government “wants UK and EU nationals to continue to be able to use the EHIC to receive healthcare should they need it while on holiday”.

Meanwhile, former Brexit Secretary said that if an agreement cannot be reached, the UK will provide one “unilaterally”.

While there is no certainty relating to the status of the EHIC in a post-Brexit environment then, there is a chance that the scheme – or one similar to it – will continue to run for British passport holders. However, it is very much a case of watch this space.

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Date Created: 24 January 2019

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