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Tell your visitors to get a health card and travel insurance

News Spain - June 2013

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Tell your visitors to get a health card and travel insurance

As British expatriates in Spain prepare for their annual influx of summer visitors, the British Embassy is urging people who are expecting friends and family to remind them to bring an often-forgotten essential – a European Health Insurance Card.

"If you're having family or friends to stay this summer, they'll be asking you what they need to bring. Item number one on their checklist should be the European Health Insurance Card - also known as an EHIC" says a British Embassy spokesman.

"This simple piece of plastic entitles the holder to all medically-necessary treatment during a temporary stay in Spain. It's easy to get – check out www.ehic.org.uk - and it costs nothing.

"Although most people's trips are trouble-free, things can go wrong. An EHIC will provide peace of mind in case someone needs to see the doctor. It'll help to ensure they don't take home a big hospital bill should they need medical care."

Comprehensive travel insurance is the second vital item on a visitor's packing list. It covers all the extras that an EHIC doesn't provide, such as repatriation in the case of medical emergency. If a visiting friend or family member is taken into hospital, an EHIC is enough to cover someone until they are well enough to travel home.

If someone who is taking out travel insurance has a pre-existing medical condition, then do remind them to declare it. If they don't, the insurer may well invalidate their policy. "You won't fool them but they may make a fool of you", says an Embassy spokesman.

Every year consular staff in Spain are asked to assist hundreds of Britons who have failed to take out travel insurance or who have invalidated their policies, and who have ended up facing huge bills when attending a private clinic or hospital.

However, visitors to Spain should be aware that they do not have to provide travel insurance as payment for medically necessary treatment in a public or state healthcare facility. They should insist that their EHIC is accepted. Anyone asked to sign a form or disclaimer in a state hospital should check that they are not forfeiting the right to be treated under an EHIC.

If someone's EHIC is refused or for other concerns about using an EHIC whilst in Spain, call the Department of Health team at the British Consulate on 902 109 356.

A visitor who needs to see a doctor and doesn't have an EHIC with them can also get a Provisional Replacement Certificate from the Overseas Healthcare Team in Newcastle, on +44 191 218 1999.

To apply for an EHIC go to www.ehic.org.uk

For more information on EHIC entitlements, visit www.healthcareinspain.eu