by Lewis McLeod
The UK has issued over 27 million EHIC cards, they cover pre-existing medical conditions as well as emergency care and also maternity care.
The NHS have supplied these cards for many years to citizens of UK but now they look to be in danger of being invalid. NHS have put together a blog on their website that has explained what you should expect when travelling in the EU and looking for medical care – https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/going-abroad-for-treatment/going-abroad-for-medical-treatment/ .
If there’s a no deal Brexit, UK citizens can’t rely on their card being valid. Britons would have to buy travel insurance to cover their health care, just like they would if they were travelling to any non-EU country.
Spain and Belgium’s governments have said that they will offer medical care when UK citizens are in their country, but only if the UK return the favour. There are already deals in place with the likes of Australia and New Zealand, which allow people to get treatment urgently for free or at a reduced cost, but unlike the EHIC it does not cover pre-existing issues. For more information on this you can visit: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/healthcare-when-travelling-abroad/travelling-outside-the-european-economic-area-eea/.
The reciprocal deals will cost the people of the UK more money on their travel insurance because they will need to pay for coverage on their pre-existing health issues which can be a struggle as people have major health issues which will now hold them back from travelling to other countries in Europe.
In certain countries such as Portugal, UK citizens can get their health care paid for whilst in Portugal, however this will only be valid for six months after Brexit is over. Portugal is a hotspot for UK citizens when it comes to holidays so this could help a lot of people who get caught up in some trouble abroad.