How to apply for and use the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) after Brexit ?
What is the Global Health Insurance Card ?
The U.K. Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) is a new initiative that will allow U.K. citizens and residents to obtain healthcare at a reduced cost or even for free after Brexit, replacing the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which provided the same benefits to U.K. citizens and residents when the country was a member of the European Union. Those with a valid EHIC will still be able to use this until its expiry date - but will then need to replace it with a GHIC. Dual nationals of EU states, including Ireland, can still claim a U.K.-issued EHIC. Neither card can be used as a replacement for travel insurance.
How to apply for a new GHIC
All U.K. residents, including non-British nationals, can apply for a GHIC using a form on the NHS website. It’s free to apply for a GHIC and you should not use sites that charge a fee to help you through the process. To obtain your GHIC you will need to provide your full name, address, date of birth, National Insurance or NHS number (England and Wales), CHI number (Scotland), Health and Care number (Northern Ireland). You can begin your application, here : ghic.org.uk/Internet/startApplication.do
You will also need a GHIC for each member of your family. You can apply on behalf of your partner and any dependent children under the age of 16.
The process for students
The GHIC application process is slightly different for students embarking on courses abroad, as you need to apply for a card that’s time-limited to your course that cannot be obtained via an online application. Instead, you will need to fill in a form with details including the name and address of your U.K. educational institution (if studying abroad as part of a U.K. course), the address of your EU institution, details of the qualification you are studying for, and the dates of your course, in addition to the information you’d provide for a normal GHIC.
The address you should post your application to is :
Overseas Healthcare Services
NHS Business Services Authority
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
How do I use my GHIC card?
You can use a GHIC (or an EHIC) to receive “necessary healthcare” if you’re in an EU country by presenting it when you require treatment. Necessary healthcare means that your treatment is medically necessary during your stay and cannot be delayed until you return to the U.K. This includes care like emergency treatment at an Accident & Emergency department, treatment for long-term pre-existing conditions, routine maternity care (but you cannot travel to the EU with the intention of giving birth) or kidney and oxygen dialysis, as well as chemotherapy. Some of these treatments may have to be pre-booked in advance, however, and your GHIC will not cover treatment from a private provider.
The GHIC will also cover you for treatment should you fall ill while in transit to an EU country, but may not cover all services you would receive for free in the U.K., including certain prescriptions, as each state’s healthcare systems are slightly different as to what is covered. In some countries, you may also have to make a contribution towards the cost of state treatment, known as a co-payment.
Some countries may also expect you to pay for the cost of care upfront and then claim a refund. You should therefore keep any documentation of your care and payments in order to apply for this. In some cases, the entire bill may not be all refundable, with the remainder taken as a co-payment to make a contribution to costs like prescriptions, however, you will not be charged more than an ordinary citizen of the EU state you are visiting.
You cannot use a GHIC or an existing EHIC in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland, so you will need travel insurance with healthcare cover. However, a U.K. passport can be used to get medically necessary healthcare in Norway.
Do I need to be carrying my GHIC at all times to receive treatment?
You should try to ensure you have your GHIC on you at all times or in a safe and secure place such as your hotel room or rented accommodation. However, if for some reason you lose or leave your GHIC behind and need treatment you can get a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) that proves your entitlement. To apply for a PRC you need to call Overseas Healthcare Services at the NHS Services Authority on +44 191 218 1999 and provide your name, National Insurance number, address, date of birth, and details of where you are receiving treatment. If you have been incapacitated another person can apply on your behalf.
What does a GHIC mean for travel insurance?
As previously stated, the GHIC does not replace travel and medical insurance, and only covers essential medical needs - it will not cover costs such as mountain rescue or if you need to be flown back to the U.K. due to injury or illness. As such, you should make sure you have both a GHIC and medical and travel insurance. AXA provides Schengen travel and medical insurance that covers you in most EU member states.
Frequently asked questions about obtaining a GHIC
Can I travel to the EU using a GHIC without obtaining travel and medical insurance?
Yes. As there is a visa-free travel arrangement - you can - but it is not recommended as you will not be covered for all health problems or other mishaps.
Can I obtain a GHIC as a non-U.K. citizen?
Yes. As long as you are resident in the U.K.
Can I apply for a GHIC if I am living outside the U.K.?
Yes. If you are a U.K. citizen living or working abroad - although you may also be able to continue using your EHIC issued by the country you reside in.