In 2021 the GHIC was launched by the UK government to benefit British residents by gaining access to free or low-cost state healthcare when in Europe. It has replaced the EHIC for most UK residents that offered the same facilities and services.
However, those UK residents still having valid EHICs can continue to use them as long as they have not expired. Others with expired cards will need to apply for a new card that will be the GHIC. The change cam about because of Brexit with the government indicating that it will add some more nations to the GHIC in the coming period. The card is available at no cost and it is recommended to carry one whenever you plan a visit to the EU. Although, it is also necessary to carry adequate travel insurance to ensure that you are covered for other mishaps that may not be covered by the GHIC.
Uses of GHIC
The GHIC makes it easy to access emergency medical healthcare provided by the state in any EU country. It offers access to the same kind of treatments as those offered by the NHS either at no or limited cost depending upon the medical facilities of the country they are visiting. However, this is not comprehensive as it does not cover every kind of medical need. The GHIC only covers treatment for any medical emergency or routine treatments for any pre-existing condition.
The card is valid to use in the EU and Switzerland by the following people:
- UK citizens
- Swiss citizens
- Citizens of any EU nation
- Family members or dependants of the above
Those with an EHIC can use it in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and any EU country. But since January 2021 there are changes in the EHIC’s eligibility and it has been replaced by the GHIC, with the latter not valid for use in Norway, Liechtenstein or Iceland.
Can anyone still apply for an EHIC?
Those that are UK citizens living in either the EU, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway or Liechtenstein before or since 2020 are still eligible to get an EHIC. It will also be subject to if the individual has applied and is granted an entitlement form like an A1 or S1 form.
Other categories that are eligible include citizens of Switzerland, Iceland, Norway or Liechtenstein or any EU country, living in the UK before or since 2020, are still eligible to get an EHIC. The family members or dependents if any will also be eligible for an EHIC. However, those individuals that have dual nationalities while staying in the UK, may not qualify for an EHIC and will receive a GHIC instead.
Getting injured abroad
In case of an accident or injury abroad, the GHIC can be used to get emergency treatment at any state healthcare facility. Those that are registered for a GHIC but are not carrying it while on a trip and need treatment can apply for a PRC (provisional replacement certificate) that will serve as a substitute to receive treatment at a state healthcare facility. Those that do not possess a GHIC will need to pay for the treatment from their own pocket. Having a GHIC entitles the holder to be compensated for any payment they have to have to make. In addition, having travel insurance is always recommended as it helps to cover costs for those areas not covered by the GHIC.