How Will the Brexit affect the use of the European Health Insurance Card?

In Europe, a strong social system is in place to protect its citizens. The European Health Insurance Card is one of the measures that have been installed. It entitles any European travelling inside the EU borders to access urgent and necessary medical treatment if something were to happen to them. But how will it work after Brexit for UK citizens and Europeans living in the UK?

January 31, 2020: The Official UK Exit from the EU

At the beginning of next year, the UK will officially leave the EU. However, European law will cease to apply in the UK as of December 31 of this year (2020). On that day, the transition period agreed between the EU and the UK will be completed. This applies for individuals as well as for businesses. It also signifies the end of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for British citizens, but also for EU citizens in the UK health system.

Since a ratified treaty has yet to be signed, it is possible that an agreement could be found on that subject in the future. However, today, the authorities in the UK don’t seem to be thinking that way. They are suggesting to their citizens to buy health insurance if they plan to visit EU countries in 2021, and the EU is doing the same to its people.

What does EHIC covers in Europe?

If you are an EU citizen and you travel across Europe, the European Health Insurance Card guarantees you a minimum health care, if something was to happen to you while you are out of your residing country. It lets you benefit from the state-provided medical treatments, in case of an accident or if you were to fall ill. This service also covers pre-existing medical conditions and maternity care. It also works for chronic illnesses and provides health care services such as dialysis to those requiring it.

Medical Cover Post-Brexit

The European Health Insurance Card will still be valid for all EU citizens, everywhere but in the UK. It is also valid when they visit Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. No changes will be made.

As for the UK citizens, they will lose that privilege in all of the EU countries. But there are a few nations with which the UK has healthcare deals. They cover partly or fully their citizens’ expenses if they have to use the medical system when traveling to these destinations. Australia and New Zealand are two of them. However, medical pre-existing conditions are not part of these agreements.