The Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) was introduced by the UK government in 2021 as a convenient way to get low cost or free state healthcare services in EU countries. In most cases for UK residents, this has now replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) that previously served the same function.
While any existing EHICs will remain valid until the expiry dates listed on them, most UK residents who need a new card will need to apply for a GHIC. This has changed as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, and the government has indicated that it plans to add more countries to those covered by the GHIC in the future. It is free to apply for a card, and we recommend that you do so before you travel to any EU countries. However, you should be aware that you will also need travel insurance to ensure that you are effectively covered for any accidents that might occur.
Here, the accidents abroad experts at JMW Solicitors explain the differences between GHIC and EHIC, who can apply, what each is used for and why it is extremely important to make sure you have one before you go on holiday.
The function of the GHIC is to enable you to access medically necessary, state-provided healthcare in European countries. This means that the card covers you for the same types of treatments that are available on the NHS without additional charges, but will not cover every type of medical care. Things you are covered for might include emergency hospital visits and any emergency or routine treatment for a long-term or pre-existing medical condition.
The GHIC can be used in any EU country and Switzerland, by people in a variety of categories, including:
If you have an EHIC, you can also use this in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, as well as any EU member state and Switzerland. However, eligibility for the EHIC changed in January 2021, and has been replaced by the GHIC (which cannot be used in Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway) in most cases. More information about EHIC eligibility can be found below.
You can apply for a GHIC or an EHIC at the NHS website.
You can still apply for an EHIC if you are a UK citizen who has been living in the EU (or Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland) since 2020 or before. This will also depend on whether you have applied for (and been granted) a certificate of entitlement such as an S1 form (formerly called E106, E109, or E121 forms) or an A1 form.
Conversely, if you are an EU national (or a citizen of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland) who has been residing legally in the UK since 2020 or before, you may still be able to apply for an EHIC. Any of your family members or dependents will also qualify for an EHIC if you yourself are eligible. If you have dual nationality with the UK, you may not be eligible for an EHIC and may need to apply for a GHIC instead.
If you sustain an injury abroad that was not your fault, you can access emergency medical treatment using your GHIC. If you have registered for a GHIC, but you do not have it with you when you are injured and you need state healthcare while travelling in Europe, you can apply for a provisional replacement certificate (PRC) to prove your entitlement to any healthcare you need.
If you do not have a GHIC you may be required to pay for any medical treatment you need. In either case, if you were injured in an accident that was not your fault, you may be able to claim compensation. If you find that you have to pay for your medical treatment yourself, compensation can help you to offset these costs and any additional expenses associated with your injury.
The personal injury solicitors at JMW have significant experience in helping those who have been injured in accidents while on holiday or travelling abroad. While it is impossible to anticipate everything that might happen, you can protect yourself by making careful preparations. If you have suffered an accident abroad, compensation could help to cover any additional expenses you incurred as a result, or pay for any lifestyle adjustments you need to make while you recover.
If you think you may be entitled to compensation, you can contact JMW’s personal injury experts to discuss the circumstances of your accident. Call us on 0345 872 6666 or fill in our online enquiry form to arrange a call back.