As British expatriates in Italy prepare for their annual influx of summer visitors, the British Embassy is urging people who are expecting friends and family to remind them to bring an often-forgotten essential: a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
David Broomfield, British Consul in Rome said:
If you’re having family or friends to stay this summer, they’ll be asking you what they need to bring. Aside from the tea bags and bacon, the number one item on their checklist should be their European Health Insurance Card, also known as an EHIC.
This simple piece of plastic entitles the holder to all medically-necessary treatment during a temporary stay in Italy. It’s easy to get – check out www.ehic.org.uk - and it’s free!
Although most people’s trips are trouble-free, things can go wrong. An EHIC will provide peace of mind in case someone needs to see the doctor. It’ll help to ensure they don’t take home a big hospital bill should they need medical care.
Comprehensive travel insurance is the second vital item on a visitor’s packing list. It covers all the extras that an EHIC doesn’t provide, such as repatriation in the case of medical emergency. If a visiting friend or family member is taken into hospital, an EHIC is enough to cover someone until they are well enough to travel home.
If someone who is taking out travel insurance has a pre-existing medical condition, then do remind them to declare it. If they don’t, the insurer may well invalidate their policy. It is just not possible to pull the wool over their eyes!
Every year consular staff in Italy are asked to assist many Brits who have failed to take out travel insurance or who have invalidated their policies, and who have ended up facing huge bills when attending a private clinic or hospital.
However, visitors to Italy should be aware that they do not have to provide travel insurance as payment for medically necessary treatment in a public or state healthcare facility. They should insist that their EHIC is accepted. Anyone asked to sign a form or disclaimer in a state hospital should check that they are not forfeiting the right to be treated under an EHIC.
A visitor who needs to see a doctor and doesn’t have an EHIC with them can also get a Provisional Replacement Certificate from the Overseas Healthcare Team in Newcastle, on +44 191 218 1999.