Most travellers wouldn’t dream of heading off overseas without being insured, and one of most useful pieces of paper you can take with you on your European holiday is the EHIC. EHIC is the European Health Insurance Card, and lets you and your family access state healthcare across Europe from Greece in the south to Norway in the north. EHIC doesn’t mean you can get free healthcare; it means that if you go to see a GP in Amsterdam, you’ll be charged exactly the same as the Dutch person taking the next appointment. EHIC can drastically cut the cost of your care if you fall ill overseas, but not everyone living in the UK qualifies.
The key phrase which comes into play with EHIC entitlement is “ordinarily resident”. Anyone who has their permanent home in the UK, whether they are working here or not, should be entitled to an EHIC card. This will cover the majority of people in the UK, whether or not they are British by birth or have a British passport. The situation is more complex for people who are recent immigrants to the UK, asylum seekers or have some other status. Seek guidance from the NHS Overseas Healthcare team if you are unsure whether you’re entitled to an EHIC.
Students and Foreign Workers
One group which is not entitled to a British EHIC are overseas students. Even though they spend more time in the UK than in their home countries, students are deemed to have their permanent residence at their non-University address so are not “ordinarily resident” in the UK. Students from other EHIC countries might be able to apply for EHIC under their own healthcare system’s regulations. Similarly, workers who are based overseas but are sent to the UK to work for six months or a year won’t qualify either.