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Travellers urged to renew health cards

Don't travel without EHIC

[March 26th 2008]

Travel health cards

Nearly 3.3 million European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) will have expired by the end of March this year without their holders realising, according to a new survey.

The Department of Health is urging holiday-makers to check and renew their EHICs before they travel after their poll showed that almost three in five people claim to have an EHIC but 68 per cent don't know when it expires.

A valid EHIC entitles British travellers to reduced cost or free healthcare in most European countries. Holders of out-of-date EHICs will have to pay for medical treatment themselves or claim on their travel insurance.

The Department of Health research also reveals that while almost half of British travellers have become ill or injured on holiday, 35 per cent of these have delayed treatment until they return home due to fears about the cost and lack of insurance.

Speaking for the Department of Health campaign, Dr Hilary Jones, GMTV's resident GP, says: "I'm concerned that so many holiday-makers are needlessly putting their health at risk, when a valid EHIC will provide them with access to reduced cost or even free treatment. By delaying treatment until you return home, you are potentially allowing a condition to worsen in the meantime...

"If you're travelling in Europe, it is vital that you carry a valid EHIC, as well as comprehensive travel insurance. The last thing you want to be thinking about when you're on holiday is paying unnecessary medical bills, which could cost thousands of pounds. The EHIC card will give you peace of mind that you'll be looked after if something does go wrong - but only if it is in date. Check your EHIC now to ensure it has not expired - it's quick and easy to apply for a new card."

To renew or obtain an EHIC, log on to http://www.nhs.uk/healthcareabroad.

Family travels

The EHIC was introduced in August 2005 to replace the old E111 forms and is not a replacement for travel insurance.

From April 1, UK residents visiting the Channel Islands must have adequate travel insurance.

Written by: Maxine Clarke

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