How important are health insurance cards?

When it comes to travelling abroad, you should look at the health insurance cards that they have available, in order to give you access to free or reduced cost, essential public healthcare while you’re away. For example, in Europe they have an EHIC UK scheme that allows people from the UK to gain access to the public healthcare, due to the fact that they are EU citizens (for now). Health insurance is important, whenever you go abroad, but we dive into just how important health insurance cards really are.


One of the main benefits of an EHIC is that it is available to all British Nationals for free. As EU citizens, it ensures that the right to state provided healthcare in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland is protected, whenever you travel. Although the quality and standard of healthcare may not be the same as abroad, citizens are entitled to public healthcare during their time in the country – which is important when travelling. It is enough to cover any medical emergency, for essential healthcare needs throughout the time they are in the country, but there is a strong emphasis on the fact that the EHIC, although important, should not be a sole replacement of travel insurance.

EHIC vs. Travel Insurance

When it comes to travelling abroad, it is important that you take both your health insurance card and travel insurance too. Having a good travel insurance policy is important as there are a few things that an EHIC/other health insurance card won’t cover. For example, an EHIC will not cover all medical costs, and it won’t cover the cost of repatriation back to the UK, whereas travel insurance will. Whether you need to be accompanied back to the UK by a nurse, need to be transferred by air ambulance, or you simply miss your scheduled flight due to illness, travel insurance will cover you for this – whereas your EHIC won’t. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, your EHIC will cover you regardless of whether it is related to that or not, however it doesn’t cover all medical treatment and repatriation. If you do have pre-existing medical conditions, then you should make sure that you have comprehensive travel insurance to guarantee that you are covered at all times. Travel insurance won’t always cover basic medical needs for small illnesses and injuries, and therefore it is important to take both a health insurance card and travel insurance with you.

Money Saving

When it comes to your health on holiday, you will find that your EHIC can save you money. Some travel insurers will reduce or waive the excess payable on a travel insurance claim if you’ve used your EHIC, which makes it even more important to have both. Depending on the level of excess on your travel insurance policy – something that you should check before you take it out, could save you up to a few hundred pounds, making it really worth having for both. An EHIC is quick, easy and free to apply for, for British nationals, and it is a crucial thing to take with you on your holiday.