The alphabet soup of UK services can be confusing at times and some services are easy to overlook. If you live and work in the UK, and have a National Insurance (NI) number), you should be aware of the European Health Insurance Card (NHIC).
An EHIC gives the holder the right to obtain state-provided healthcare in other European Economic Area (EEA) countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden) and Switzerland). Medical services will be provided at a reduced cost and sometimes at no charge. The EHIC is designed to cover emergency and clinically necessary medical treatments until the holder returns to the UK. EHIC is designed to provide cover temporary stays in EEA countries.
It is important to note that EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance. The UK government advises travellers to have both when traveling outside of the UK.
Nationals of the EU, EEA and Switzerland who are residents of the UK are automatically eligible for an EHIC card. Those who are citizens of other countries will need to provide other documentation in order to proof their eligibility and receive a card. Acceptable documentation includes visas, a letter from the Home Office, or a letter from an employer.
There are services which promise to obtain an EHIC card for the applicant for a fee. An EHIC card is completely free and such services are a waste of money. The process is relatively straight forward and presents little or no problems for those looking to apply as long as they possess the required documentation.