Visiting Spain without proper healthcare cover could cost you time, worry and even ruin your holiday if you end up with big medical bills. That’s the message to holidaymakers and expatriates who have friends and families visiting them this summer. The British Embassy’s Healthcare Team regularly has to help Britons in hospital without the correct cover.
In 2013, over 2,000 British holidaymakers found themselves in a public hospital in Spain and having to apply for a temporary replacement for their European Health Insurance Card (or EHIC), adding stress and frustration to urgent medical treatment. If you are coming to Spain for a holiday or temporary stay, a valid EHIC will save you time and expense. Now “Using your EHIC in Spain”, a short video from the Embassy’s Healthcare Team, will help you understand where and how to use it.
The video also stresses the importance of travel insurance. The Healthcare Team assists many more Brits who end up in private hospitals without travel insurance and facing medical bills of thousands of pounds. Private care is not covered by an EHIC, nor reimbursed by the National Health Service.
One holidaymaker describes how travelling without an EHIC added distress to illness:
Last year I ended up in the local public hospital in Marbella with no EHIC. While I was being treated, I had to arrange for cover to be faxed over from the UK. In the end it took days because my name was misspelled by admissions and they did not link the replacement cover to me. It was awful having all that added stress, plus doing it all in Spanish, when I felt so poorly.
But an EHIC only covers state healthcare, not private medical costs. Another traveller explains how he was caught out with no travel insurance:
When I started feeling dizzy, the hotel called for an ambulance. I was taken to a nearby hospital where I was kept in overnight. When I went to check out there was a €1,923 bill waiting for me. I had been treated in a private hospital without knowing it. Having no private insurance cover, I had to pay. That was pretty much the end of my holiday.
Jane Ellison, Public Health Minister said:
If you live in the UK, you are entitled to a free European Health Insurance card which gives you access to healthcare when travelling in Europe. If you fall ill and aren’t properly covered, you may have to pay.
This video gives important information about why you need a valid EHIC and travel insurance when visiting other European countries, and how to use the EHIC card should you need it.
You can find the video on YouTube by searching “Using your EHIC in Spain”. You can also find the video and get more information on EHICs at healthcareinspain.eu , or on the NHS Choices website under Healthcare in Spain .