Experts warn of limitations of European Health Insurance Card

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With around 17 million UK residents taking trips to Spain every year, it is the number one destination for UK travellers. Largely as a result of the volume of visitors, Spain also ranks as the travel destination with the highest number of reported incidents. Many of these incidents leave visitors in situations where they are uninsured as they have allowed misconceptions surrounding the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to justify not purchasing travel insurance – something Sarah Findlay of finance website Insurewithease suggests could be a costly mistake, since the EHIC is no substitute for insurance.

Despite the EHIC providing an entitlement to health care, Spanish health authorities, including those in the Balearics and the Canaries, are increasingly refusing to treat European visitors under the EHIC. As well as this, visitors are being placed in costly situations where those who are travelling with only the EHIC find that they need to pay the costs of repatriation as this is not covered by the EHIC. With the cost of repatriation potentially reaching £45,000 many travellers will be forced to take out a loan to meet the cost of something that is covered by the majority of travel insurance policies – all of which are a substantially cheaper option.

With the travel insurance policies also providing cover for other medical costs, such as prescription charges and GP consultations (neither of which is covered by the EHIC), it appears unwise not to purchase travel insurance when travelling within the EU. Travel insurance will also cover other costs that the EHIC does not, such as the expenses arising from flight cancellation, lost or delayed baggage, or missed departures.


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