Will my GHIC be enough insurance to travel to the EU?
No, it is not recommended to travel only with your GHIC to any country in the European Union. The GHIC offers limited coverage in the event of any kind of medical emergency and is only valid for use at state healthcare hospitals or facilities. If you are in a country where the nearest state-healthcare facility is a long distance away it will not be practical to await treatment until you arrive there. In addition, if there is a need for medical repatriation back to the UK or a helicopter rescue due to an accident while hiking or skiing none of these will be covered by the GHIC. Therefore, apart from the GHIC, getting good travel insurance is a must as it offers coverage for various medical situations, cancellations and theft etc.
Are my medical bills refundable with the GHIC?
Unfortunately, no, with a few exceptions most medical costs borne in any EU nation will not be refunded. When the earlier EHIC was launched it was for UK nationals to get access to the same medical attention as the residents of any EU country. The GHIC follows almost the same policy and as locals must contribute a small sum for treatment in some EU countries, likewise UK nationals with a GHIC will need to do the same. It could be for overnight stays at a hospital, boarding and lodging, medicines etc. None of these is covered by the GHIC and is non-refundable. However, having the right kind of travel insurance will cover these costs.
How do I get my GHIC?
If there is still a valid date on your EHIC, you can continue to use it on a trip to EU countries. However, if the card has expired or the due date is around the corner you can apply for a new card i.e. it will be replaced with the GHIC by applying online. There also is the option to apply for your card via the postal service or directly at the NHS site.
Is GHIC accepted in every country in Europe?
At present, the GHIC can be used in all those nations that are EU members and Norway, Lichtenstein and Switzerland. It can also be used Down Under in New Zealand and Australia via a reciprocal arrangement between their authorities and the UK government. The prominent tourist destinations’ state healthcare facilities of Europe are acquainted with the EHIC/GHIC as tourists often pop in for any medical emergency with these cards. In lesser visited locations it may take a bit longer at a public healthcare hospital as they will verify if the card is valid for use at the facility there.
Can European nationals get healthcare from the NHS?
Since GHIC and EHIC are part of a reciprocal arrangement between the EU and the UK government, any UK national is eligible for healthcare facilities at the NHS. That being said, it carries certain restrictions so that UK nationals do not travel for pre-planned treatment of any kind to the UK. Any EU national can visit the NHS for a medical emergency using their EHIC card as required at present.
Can family members use a common EHIC/GHIC card?
No, each family member must have a card to use when they visit any country in the EU. That includes the children and spouse that must have individual cards to use in case of any medical emergency on a trip to the EU. For younger kids, the parents/guardians can apply on behalf of the kids, while those aged 16 and above are eligible to apply on their own.
How long is the GHIC valid?
The UK EHICs issued earlier were valid for 5 years from the date of issue. Likewise, all UK GHICs will remain valid for 5 years. Although, if anyone has had their EHIC renewed in the winter months of 2020 it is still valid for around 3 years. There is no need to get a new GHIC card until your old card is valid and good to use for any medical emergency while on a visit to any EU country.