Under the current EHIC scheme, UK citizens travelling in Europe can access healthcare locally for free or at a reduced cost. This arrangement would almost certainly change in the event of a no-deal Brexit. With insurance costs likely to rise, British travellers who suffer a medical emergency on the continent, could be more likely to opt for medical repatriation in order to receive NHS treatment at home.
What is the EHIC scheme?
The EHIC scheme gives British nationals access to medical care in all EU member states at a reduced cost or even free of charge. EU citizens travelling in the UK benefit from the same arrangement. The reciprocal scheme was set up to allow people to continue their stays abroad without having to return home for medical care. Currently, over 27 Million UK citizens possess an EHIC card, enabling them to access basic healthcare at a standard equivalent to the NHS, without taking out additional travel insurance. The card provides coverage regardless of age or preexisting conditions and is free.
What might change?
If Britain leaves the EU without a deal at the end of October all current arrangements with the EU would be void – this includes the EHIC scheme.
Many British citizens on long term stays abroad, who rely on the EHIC card for cover, would suddenly find themselves uninsured. The Association of British Insurers has predicted that in event of a no-deal, premiums may rise, saying: “Claims costs within Europe are currently reduced due to the presence of the EHIC. In the absence of the EHIC or similar reciprocal health agreement, insurers will inevitably see an increase in claims costs – this could have a direct impact on the prices charged to consumers.”
While all the EU countries offer emergency medical care to anyone requiring it, a retrospective charge is made to citizens of non-EU countries. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has warned: “You can expect to be charged in full for any care provided without an EHIC.” Faced with increased medical bills, people might be more likely to opt for medical repatriation and receive treatment at home on the NHS.
What is Medical Repatriation?
Medical repatriation refers to the transport of a patient home to their own country. It’s often carried out by professional services who may offer medical transports by road or by air.
Medical repatriation companies, like EMS Ambulance, offer bed-to-bed service – taking care of every step of the process, including all the paperwork. Whether it is best for the patient to be repatriated by long distance road ambulance, private air ambulance or on a commercial flight with a medical escort largely depends on the patient’s condition and the distance to be covered. In making this decision patient safety will always come first.
How can I get home?
If you find yourself in a medical emergency and want to return home for treatment, the first step is to get in touch with a medical repatriation company like EMS. Our medical coordinators will listen to you and will be able to advise on the best way to bring you home.
Once you engage our services, our office team would assemble the right medical professional with the right specialisms for your situation and make all other practical arrangements. They would also liaise with the hospitals on both ends to make sure a seamless handover was ensured.
The medical team would then come to you, carry out their own examination and prepare you for travel. They would accompany you on your way home, taking care of all your needs, administering medication and pain relief, and continuing any treatment so your recovery would not be slowed down.
If you would like to know more, or would just like to talk through what’s possible, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by phone, email or our live chat. We are here to help.