With the official end of the Brexit transition period fast approaching, Britons preparing for holidays after December 30, 2020, may face some additional costs as a result of the EU departure. Some experts have warned that Brexit will result in Britons no longer having access to free medical care in Europe which was previously offered by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
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“Losing the EHIC card scheme is another blow to the much-lauded mirage of a ‘Brexit bonus’,” said Scottish National Party MP Alyn Smith.
He added: “With the end of this scheme, the end of freedom of movement and the removal of our rights as European citizens, living, working, studying and travelling in the European Union will become unnecessarily harder for UK nationals.”
This means that purchasing adequate travel insurance with full medical coverage will be an absolute necessity, but in the wake of coronavirus, it may come at a cost.
The EHIC card currently covers Britons for state-provided medical treatment if they fall ill or have an accident while visiting any EU country, or in Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Lichenstein.
However, following the end of the Brexit transition period, this will come to an end.
The UK Government website warns then that it is “particularly important” to invest in a travel insurance policy with adequate cover.
Though travel insurance firms are yet to determine how the pandemic will affect the cost of coverage in the future, a travel expert told Express.co.uk that some policies may change.
Sasha Gainullin, CEO of battleface, told Express.co.uk: “We are not proposing an increase in premiums for UK nationals travelling into EU post Brexit.
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“I would imagine that most insurers are going to wait and see the impact of not having E111 before taking a decision though some may pre-empt any increase in costs.
“Current travel insurance policies should be adequate for 2021 travel though if COVID-19 is still prevalent in some destinations and FCO advisories continue in place then travellers should be aware that their insurance policies may not respond.”
However, there is some hope for the EHIC card, with a final decision on how healthcare for Britons visiting Europe will work after Brexit.
“After December 2020, the EHIC could work as it does now, but this depends on what is decided,” states the Money Advice Service website.
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Meanwhile, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “As part of its published approach to the negotiations, the UK has indicated it is open to working with the EU to establish arrangements that provide healthcare cover for tourists, short-term business visitors and service providers.”
The current healthcare advice for UK nationals visiting the EU states: “You can use an EHIC until the end of 2020.
“If you’re visiting an EU country on 31 December 2020, you can continue to use your EHIC until the end of your visit to that country.”
However, it adds: “An EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance. Make sure you have both before you travel.”
Speaking on the Martin Lewis Money Show, financial journalist and campaigner Martin Lewis said: “If you’re going to Europe, which you likely are since it’s probably the only place you’re going to be allowed to go for the next couple of months if you’re going anywhere, European Health Insurance Cards are still valid.
“They give you treatment in European Union hospitals and GPs for the same price as a local.
“If it is free for them it is free for you.
“Millions of them are out of date, check the expiry date of yours.”
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