Fraudsters targetting EHIC travellers- and why you need an EHIC
Copycat websites are still all the rage, and the latest trend is for shysters to set up websites to sell you a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) even though you can get them for absolutely nothing. But the reason this seems to be such a rich vein for the fraudsters is that it seems many people don't know that the cards are free.
According to our friends over at Which!!!, 20% of British adults, that’s one in five, didn’t know that EHIC cards are free for UK residents. They also found that almost one in 16 UK adults who’d been to Europe in the last five years had paid for an EHIC card.
The problem is, of course, that most search engines carry ads for third party websites at the top of search results pages. Copycat websites exploit this, and make themselves as official-looking as possible, so that you think you’re on the proper site, when actually you are being taken for a mug.
Which!!! reckon that the two of the most prominent adverts for EHIC cards promoted via top search bot Google lead to copycat sites charging between £24 and £35 per card, instead of getting a free EHIC card from gov.uk/ehic.
But why do I need an EHIC?
Many people think that if they have travel insurance, they don’t need an EHIC. This simply isn’t true. An EHIC will enable you to access state-provided healthcare (NHS equivalent) in European Economic Area (EEA) countries, including Switzerland, at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. For example, if you want to see a GP in France, say, you will have to pay a standard amount for the consultation; showing your EHIC card will reduce the amount you pay. If you need ongoing medical care, the EHIC card will cover your treatment until you return to the UK. Unlike many travel insurance policies, the EHIC will also cover treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and routine (i.e not planned birth) maternity care. The NHS has a specific country-by-country guide if you want to check a particular treatment in a certain country.
But while EHIC covers state medical services, it will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK (or, obviously, lost or stolen property), which is why you buy your travel insurance. Some insurers will allow you to reclaim any costs incurred abroad, such as those charged for seeing a GP as above, but some will only refund the EHIC-net cost and some now insist that you hold an EHIC, while others will waive any excess if you have used your EHIC. So being as it costs nothing but a few minutes of your time, you’d be a fool not to get one- and carry it with you when in Europe.