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European Health Insurance Card: clearing up confusions concerning EHIC when traveling abroad


Compulsory medical insurance for travellers

A recent survey points out that 54% of the 2500 people interviewed ignore that they have to have the EHIC to access state medical hospitals when they travel abroad. The ABTA (the UK’s leading travel association) adds that it is important to have the EHIC because in case of an accident in foreign countries it allows you access to state healthcare in Europe. They were precise that the EHIC only allows basic state care. The Association of British Insurers worries about the misunderstanding of consumers. The EHIC does not substitute medical or travel insurance. For example, the card does not cover for lost baggage, travel assistance or medical-related items like repatriation by plane or helicopter. Also, foreign medical state care is sometimes very far from standards people are used to.
The ABI (Association of British Insurers) says that it is absolutely not a substitute for travel insurance. The IPMI assert it is very important to get the appropriate health insurance before travelling abroad. If you travel to Europe, make sure your EHIC is updated. Also inform about healthcare system and practices (opening schedules of pharmacies, phone number of an ambulance, where are doctors, etc).
The ABTA gives the case of a pregnant woman on vacation in Spain. She gave birth prematurely. She had good medical care thanks to the EHIC but she could not fly back home because she did not have medical insurance to cover the repatriation cost for her and the baby.
The IPMI add that the world in 2013 is home to an array of new risks for tourists, as civil unrest, political instability and economic crisis. The magazine underscores that compulsory travel and medical insurance is the solution. Just like motor insurance, health insurance should be mandatory for everybody travelling abroad. 
Abu Dhabi first proposed mandatory health insurance in 2005. Now employers have to provide their employees and families with health insurance. In Dubai, mandatory medical insurance should be finalised in 2013.  The Dubai Health Authority is closely working with health insurance providers to steady transition. It will take 3 years for the system to be fully concluded.


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