Report highlights complaints that the EHIC card is being refused in Spain

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The International Travel Insurance Journal (ITIJ) recently released a report that highlighted concerns that some hospitals in Spain are refusing to treat foreign patients who are carrying the EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card).

The EHIC card can be used in other countries in the European Economic Area, and they entitle the carrier to the same level of treatment provided to residents of that country. This could be free treatment, or it could be low-priced treatment, depending on the country in question. However, people who are carrying the card are now apparently being asked to provide details of their travel insurance policy or even credit cards before receiving treatment.

This has led to widespread confusion, especially as in Spain public hospitals provide free treatment to locals and should therefore also do so for travellers carrying an EHIC card.

There are concerns amongst travel insurance firms because they should not have to foot the bill for treatment that is covered by the government, and various groups are now joining forces to tackle the problem. It is not a new problem, either – there have apparently been reports of problems dating as far back as 2009.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is putting together a team to look into the problem
along with the Department of Health and the Travel Insurance Claims Committee.

UK travellers should always carry an EHIC card when travelling to another European country, but it is also very important to take out travel insurance. The EHIC card does not provide repatriation costs, and some travellers end up in a hospital bed abroad unable to return home because they cannot afford the costs of repatriation. Travel insurance also provides other benefits such as cover for missed and delayed flights, lost or stolen valuables, trip cancellation and more, making it a necessity for anyone travelling abroad.


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