If a Brexit deal is agree, EHICs should remain in operation until December 2020, but if a no-deal Brexit comes about by the 31 October, then EHICS will cease to be valid overnight – in this instance, British citizens may find that they are liable to pay for any medical treatment they require in the European Economic Area and Switzerland.
The UK Government asserted that it wants to keep the EHIC as part of future trade negotiations with the EU, but it has been reported that only four countries have agreed to cover UK travellers if there is no deal – Spain, Belgium, Portugal (until the close of 2020) and Ireland.
Sally Jaques, spokesperson for GoCompare Travel Insurance, said: “Medical costs can quickly escalate. Last year the average insurance medical claim tipped £1,300, but bills can be much, much higher. Insurers have already warned that if EHICs are withdrawn, travel insurance premiums will rise to reflect increases in the costs of medical claims. The disappearance of EHICs would hit people with pre-existing health conditions hardest. EHICs cover treatment of chronic or pre-existing medical conditions and consequently, if EHIC arrangements end, people may struggle to get affordable travel insurance for European travel.”