Sheffield broker advice for travellers to Europe amid fears that some EU hospitals are charging for free healthcare

28th June 2013

Sheffield broker IFM Insurance is urging travellers to Europe to ensure they have a European health insurance card (EHIC) plus proper travel insurance before they depart.

This follows several recent cases in Spain where some hospitals have been rejecting EHIC patients and have been charging high medical fees instead. These hospitals have refused to accept EHIC cards leaving older travellers and those with pre-existing medical conditions particularly vulnerable. The EHIC card entitles travellers to the equivalent of NHS care in 27 different European countries. It provides the same right to free or subsidised medical treatment that citizens in that country get. No provision is however made for private treatment, leading many to buy travel insurance to cover the risk. So to avoid any nasty surprises IFM is advising travellers to Europe to: Register for an EHIC either at the Post Office or online prior to travel Make sure you carry your EHIC at all times Check you're being treated under the public rather than private healthcare system when you present your EHIC. IFM also recommends travellers to purchase appropriate travel insurance to give additional cover and peace of mind: Without an EHIC, some insurers won't pay for any medical treatment. So it is unwise to rely solely on an EHIC. With proper travel insurance you should be able to reclaim many of the medical costs, as well as extras such as lost baggage, stolen cameras or cancelled holidays if you fall ill in advance. Most insurers also offer 24-hour helplines and assistance services, putting you in touch with English-speaking doctors and helping to rearrange flights and accommodation for yourself and your family in a real emergency. Mark Barlow, Managing Director of IFM said, -Amid the ongoing confusion, British travellers to Europe are recommended to have both private travel insurance and an EHIC before travelling. In the event of an EHIC card not being accepted, this should mean that travellers should avoid facing unwelcome and hefty medical bills. If in any doubt travellers should contact their local broker for help and advice.

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