After Brexit, the UK government replaced the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) with the GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card). This card provides the holder with subsidized or free medical healthcare in an emergency with travelling in the EU. Those with an existing EHIC can continue using it until it expires, even post-Brexit. After or when the EHIC is about to expire one can apply for a replacement card i.e. the GHIC for free online at the NHS site.
What is the GHIC?
The GHIC is the substitute for the EHIC after Britain left the European Union on 31 January 2020. It is similar to the EHIC in function as it offers cardholders the facility to get treated at state healthcare clinics and hospitals either free or at a discount while in any EU country. Although, there are still certain categories of individuals and groups that will remain eligible for an EHIC. It includes EU nationals that are residing in the United Kingdom and UK pensioners and their families that are living in the European Union.
What is included in the GHIC?
As with the EHIC, the GHIC offers holders emergency medical treatment when they are on a trip to the EU. It includes coverage of pre-existing and chronic medical conditions that may need treatment whilst visiting any EU country. It will also cover kidney dialysis and oxygen however, these need to be booked in advance with the hospitals before you arrive in the country. As the healthcare system in every EU country is different in some nations there might be a discounted charge (same as the locals) while in others it may be free of cost.
What countries will be covered by the GHIC?
All the current EU nations are covered which are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the 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 and Sweden.
Travel to Switzerland
Despite Switzerland not being within the EU group of countries, those with EHIC or GHIC cards can still use them as nationals of the EU or UK respectively. They can access state healthcare either free or at a lower cost in case of any medical emergency.
Travel to Norway
Neither will an existing EHIC or GHIC be valid in Norway. However, a British passport is valid in use for any kind of emergency healthcare in the country. Since state healthcare in Norway is not free for the locals you will need to make a small contribution towards the treatment.
Travel to Iceland or Liechtenstein
If you visit Liechtenstein or Iceland neither the EHIC nor GHIC can be used. Instead, you would need to get standard travel insurance with health coverage as is normally done when travelling to countries out of the European Union.
Is travel insurance required with a GHIC?
If you already have the GHIC you will still need to buy travel insurance with medical coverage when you plan to travel to the EU. This is because like the EHIC the GHIC does not include repatriation or rescue expenses in case of any emergency. Likewise, even those with travel insurance will find certain policies make it mandatory to have GHIC coverage as well to waive any excess on your insurance policy.