European Health Insurance Card

The European Health Insurance Card allows anyone who possesses one to receive medical treatment in another European member state. This treatment will be for free or at a reduced cost, if such treatment becomes necessary during their visit.

My EHIC card was recently up for renewal. Although, of course, I cannot renew it, as we people of the UK are apparently not European any more.

Yes, I know such a thing as an EHIC still exists — Europeans can have one, for a start — but, for me, it might as well be a mermaid on a mountain on the moon.

What can I have instead? What replacement item will give me healthcare cover on my holidays? Specifically, what will allow me to access medically necessary state-provided healthcare if I’m suddenly incapacitated in an EU country or Switzerland?

Something that sounds so, so much better: a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).

Global? Does this mean I can start accessing medically necessary state-provided healthcare in Addis Ababa? In America? In the Antarctic?

Actually, no. The majestic-sounding Global Health Insurance Card is only useful in a country belonging to the EU or Switzerland.

The helpful NHS explainer page optimistically promises: “A UK GHIC may become valid in more countries in the future.”

This text has probably been written by a civil servant who has been told that everything about Brexit and its consequences must be presented in the best, most patriotic, most favourable light.

Yes, we really might get more reciprocal healthcare with a small set of islands in the South Pacific one day. We might… Or possibly with that mermaid on the moon.

I’m not holding my breath. (That would require medically necessary healthcare wherever I was on the planet.)

Final detail: the new GHIC comes with a union flag background. That could be a problem in Northern Ireland where people are sensitive around flags. No matter! People applying from Northern Ireland can choose a plain background instead.

In the meantime, I will miss my little stars.

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