MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis has mocked the government’s replacement for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which British citizens are not eligible to get or renew now that the UK has left the EU.
The old EHIC, which British citizens can still use abroad until the card expires, meant that Brits could get medical care abroad without having to prove they could pay for it first.
While here in the UK we can often take our free health care for granted, it is not the case in many other countries.
To replace the EHIC, the government has introduced the Global Heath Insurance Card (GHIC), but as Martin Lewis has pointed out, the number of countries the new card actually covers is quite limited.
In a mocking post on social media, the MoneySavingExpert founder initially appeared to congratulate the government on the new card. However, he then mocked the name of the new card, as while it’s called a “global” health insurance card, it actually covers fewer countries than the old ‘European’ one.
Martin said: “Congrats to the govt on its new free GLOBAL health insurance card (GHIC), which replaces the EUROPEAN (EHIC) one.
“The EHIC covered the EU 27 countries plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The improved GHIC covers well only the EU27.”
Martin then expressed his hope that the four lost countries are brought back and his doubts over whether other countries will enter a scheme with the UK only.
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Britons travelling to the EU are familiar with the small free card that entitles you to the same state healthcare in the EU that locals are entitled to, at the same cost – which it would be free in some cases.
Now, following Brexit, the European Health Insurance Card is being phased out in favour of a new Global Health Insurance Card.
You can apply for an EHIC on the official government website.
If you currently have an EHIC you can continue to use it in the EU until the card expires, even if that is years away.
However, Europeans living in the UK before 2021 should still be able to apply for a new EHIC.
Note that neither is a replacement for travel insurance, as they don’t cover holiday cancellation, mountain rescue, repatriation and more.
MoneySavingExpert, in its guide, warns that about copycat websites that try to trick people into paying for a GHIC card.
Their advice is: “Watch out for websites demanding a fee for the EHIC or GHIC. Search on the internet for “EHIC” or “GHIC” and you’ll find sites that describe themselves as “reviewing” or “forwarding” services, charging to process your application. They often look official but scroll to the bottom and you’ll find a tick box asking for cash.”