Hospital bills vary widely depending on which country you’re visiting, and they can be notoriously expensive in places such as the United States. Travel cover will take care of these medical costs, should you happen to get sick or injured while abroad.
If you have a European Health Insurance Card (or EHIC), then you will be entitled to state medical care in all European Union countries. This means you will receive the same level of care that would be available to a local resident. If your EHIC expires, or has expired already, then you can apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (or GHIC). Despite the name this still only applies within EU countries, not worldwide. Before 1 January 2021, an EHIC or GHIC would also cover you in some non-EU countries including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, but now neither card will cover UK citizens visiting these countries. Find out more about the GHIC in our article Everything you need to know about the Global Health Insurance Card.
Bear in mind that state medical care works differently abroad, so the EHIC or GHIC might not cover all of your bills if you would normally be expected to pay for care in that country. It also won’t cover repatriation costs. Therefore, it’s still essential to have travel insurance even if you already have an EHIC or GHIC. Despite the name, they don’t technically count as insurance policies, so you won’t be considered double-insured if you have travel insurance in addition to a card.
It’s important to be completely honest about your medical history and any pre-existing conditions you might have when applying for travel insurance. If you are not, then it will put your cover in jeopardy and your insurer may refuse to payout. Find out more in our guide How to find travel insurance if you have pre-existing medical conditions.