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Monday February 11, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

The EHIC is used widely by skiers and snowboarders, but what may happen after March 29th?





The EHIC currently entitles people to state-provided medical treatment.

The UK has issued 27million EHIC cards.

It covers all EU countries + some other ones that us skiers and snowboarders visit in the winter months - Switzerland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

It covers pre-existing medical conditions as well as emergency care.

















What happens all depends if the UK leaves with or without a deal.


If the UK leaves with no deal the EHIC will no longer be valid.

If there is no deal, the advice for those travelling on or after 29th March 2019 is to buy travel insurance to cover health care "just as you would if visiting a non-EU country".

It is expected that insurance premiums will rise sharply as at the moment the price factors in the use of the EHIC.

The government says it is "seeking agreements with countries on health care arrangements for UK nationals after 29 March", but there is no such agreement in place with any of the countries yet.


The UK and the EU have reached agreement that there should be a transition period between 29 March 2019 and 31 December 2020 to allow more time for negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship.

This includes the EHIC.

And after that?


It is unclear.

It will be decided as part of the negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship.

Here at PlanetSKI we wil be looking at a variety of specific areas that could directly affect skiers and snowboarders.

Next - will a UK driving licence be valid?

We will also look at air travel, mobile phone charges, buying items such as ski or boots while in resort, cigarette and alcohol allowance, the situation for British nationals working in ski resorts + other areas.


There has been some swift reaction to this story over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page:

Freya K-p We have used the EHIC numerous times and it has literally saved lives. I love it.

David Cuthill The EHIC card is a marvellous thing. If it goes, you'll just have to claim back expenses on your holiday insurance policy. Already, many clinics in Europe charge private rates and EHIC just gives you the price that locals pay.

I really value the treatment and care I've received over the years free on EHIC.

Sara Pendlebury Either not valid after march 29th 2019 or probably most likely not valid after December 2020, but we are not sure.

Excellent work UK.

Mark Whyman EHIC only works in public hospitals / facilities where it is excellent. France has a mix of private and public provision and unless you ask you may well end up in a private facility where unless you have insurance you will be asked to yay. Mountain medical centres are nearly always private but they do a good job with fractures etc as they get to see quite a lot.

Iain Blackwood What did we do before June 2004 had holiday insurance. No difference then...

Viv Seears For older people like me and those with pre existing conditions, the cost of travel insurance may be too high and put winter sports holidays outside of our reach. Ok if you are rich of course!

Colin Coupar It worked for me at the local alpine hospital in France. It won't work if you are taken by ski patrol to local GP.

Stuart Deal £20 travel insurance done

Bea Dowty Yet another thing those that voted out didn't need, care or know about? What a mess!

Sophia Gibson If your Scottish or Irish there's a good chance it will be valid again in a few years... Fingers crossed 🤞

Chris Haworth EHIC I found to be an utter waste of time in France. French hospitals wouldn't take EHIC, not even card payments, only cash, bank transfer or chèque. This summer I was even refused medical attention at Annecy general hospital before my father went to an ATM in a nearby village to get cash prior to seeing the dr. I then waited eight hours, was not offered a scan following a serious cycle head injury and have suffered long-term concussion and other issues. Following a very serious ski injury in late 2009 EHIC and no discernable advantages. Private travel insurance and medical insurance as one would have in Switzerland or the US would work better than the current inept system. If a non British user of the NHS is using a EHIC then that likely works well, for British nationals in France, I can't say for other European countries, then it doesn't seem to be worth the plastic it is printed upon.

David Cuthill In 2011, I spent 10 days in Schwatz General Hospital near Innsbruck. No wait for Achilles operation. Luxurious hotel-like accommodation. No charge. EHIC accepted.

However, In 2016, I was charged £500 for an x-ray visit in Saas-Fee, but that was a private clinic. They did give me a discount for the EHIC card.

I suspect that in Brexit times, the French don't trust the payment system, so they make you pay up front.

If they are insisting on cash, not accepting bank transfers, and withholding treatment services, it sounds crooked. Money straight in the box. No tiresome tax accounting.

Chris Haworth Saas-Fee is Switzerland, so not an EU country but the Swiss accept EHIC. Innsbruck, Austria, in the EU but with a very different mentality to some other nations. Maybe a little time in France may raise awareness of duality of "acceptance" as it seems to be one way traffic to me. I'd much rather be French in a UK hospital with no questions asked than having to find someone to go to a nearby village to find a cash machine to pay up front in order just to see the ER doctor never mind a consultant.

Ro Copson EHIC is simply a system which ensures you receive medical attention at the same rates as locals - and your insurance normally covers the costs incurred. Depending on your insurance, you are sometimes asked to pay in advance, and claim it back yourself, or sometimes your insurer pays direct, it very much depends on the insurer - many hospitals have a list of accepted insurers, the rest have to pay and claim it back. EHIC is not insurance, its effectively a discount card as an EU member. If the UK cease to be members, then UK EHIC will not be valid.

David Cuthill Ro: You say EHIC is not insurance... So what does the I in EHIC mean, then? (OK, I get that you can't use it as travel insurance or emergency rescue insurance).

"A valid EHIC gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland.".

"The EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until your planned return home. Treatment should be provided on the same basis as it would to a resident of that country, either at a reduced cost or, in many cases, free of charge.

For example, in some countries, patients are expected to directly contribute a percentage towards the cost of their state-provided treatment. This is known as a patient co-payment. If you receive treatment under this type of healthcare system, you are expected to pay the same co-payment charge as a patient from that country."

Nick Davies Got a french one !!

Nina Fedenczuk Thoughtless voting leads to consequences

Nathan Livingston EHIC has been useless both times I've tried to use it in the mountains!

Kev Owen Funny no one mentioned that the EU citerzns should now pay to use our NHS....(so they should, let's stop this free NHS for those who don't pay into it!)

Lucie Byrne Are you talking about the EU citizens that contribute over £2000 more to the UK than the average Brit does. EU citizens on holiday in the UK use the same EHIC system as we do.


And there has been reaction onother Facebook pages:

Robert Bateman Get insurance. Simples.

Vegard Kaasen Engen Ehic is an insurance, just as the travel insurance you should get...

Kat Bown Ehic isn't a form of insurance at all!

Vegard Kaasen Engen Kat Bown yes it is, with EØS funding...

Kat Bown It's not, it's an arrangement between governments. Have a read up on it.

Vegard Kaasen Engen Kat Bown i am well aware what it is... And It is built up as an International healthcare insurance within membership countries.... The difference between that and your private insurance is that you dont pay for it

Kat Bown

Matt Martin On another note the driving license, you go to the post office and get a international driving card for driving in Europe £5.00. Same with car insurance you ask for a green card from your motor insurance, no cost.

Paul Stock There are 3 different I d p. Most common one is 1968 version on sale at post office. I just got one for use in France....For first time since 1974!!

Nick King EHIC, is not an insurance. It entitles you as a EU citizen to access the normal care in another EU country ie that countries NHS with the associated waiting lists and times. Also if you are taken to a private Dr's the EHIC will not cover private charge...See More

Richard Saalbach Tatman Nick King the EHIC scheme, coupled with emergency insurance cover included in the Austrian Alpine Club membership has served my wife and me very well for many years. Free treatment whenever we've needed it at Zell am See hospital. Now we have to fork out for private insurance that allows a whole season's skiing - very difficult and expensive.

Nick King Richard, I know it will be a very sad day when this goes. But my point is you need emergency insurance and the EHIC not just an EHIC. I wonder if there will be any agreements in the governments deal when it finally goes through?

Richard Saalbach Tatman Nick King what deal? 😏😣

Kat Bown In most French resorts the med centres are private and you can't use your Ehic and still need insurance. You can if you visit a state hospital though.

Steve Mayle Just get insurance £70 for a year

Heather Smail Steve Mayle that sounds quite high?


CASH/credit card

Carol Chambers-Workman Laszlo K Loki yes, but not in UK

Richard Saalbach Tatman Steve Mayle perhaps you can point me in the direction of a travel insurance policy for under £500 that allows me to ski for a season?


Carol Chambers-Workman Richard Saalbach Tatman I'd like to know too


Steve Mayle Richard Saalbach Tatman

If you're wealthy enough to ski for a season £500 won't hurt you too much 😂

Richard Saalbach Tatman Steve Mayle not wealthy at all - just too old to work. It's cheaper to live and ski for a season in Austria than to live through the winter in the UK.

Kim Rippin Steve Mayle id love to know what policy that is for a year including winter sports?

Jerry Fischer £70 a year for a policy isn't the same as a policy that covers you for a year I suspect.

Richard Saalbach Tatman Steve Mayle I might add that, before the pound crashed following the referendum, we were living like kings in Europe, at £1 = EUR 1.43

Steve Mayle Kim Rippin Columbus

I have a whole family policy with 3 weeks winter sports for £90
My daughter
Paid £70

Kim Rippin Impressive!

Richard Saalbach Tatman Steve Mayle 21 days max winter sports may suffice for a once or twice a year holiday skier, but the problem with the withdrawal of the EHIC scheme is that those who want to ski for longer or are retired and able to spend the winter in the Alps are now fu*ked, to coin a phrase. All sorts of unnecessary hurdles.

Steve Mayle Richard Saalbach Tatman
Seems like a perfect reason to scrap Brexit and remain in the EU then!
Enjoy your winters skiing ⛷

Richard Saalbach Tatman The probable loss of the EHIC cover will have a considerable impact on my wife and me. We have occasionally had to seek medical treatment from our local hospital A&E department (Zell am See in Austria), and that treatment has been completely free of ch...See More

Carol Chambers-Workman
Richard Saalbach Tatman the real joke is that as you will be outside UK for s period of time you will not be entitled to NHS treatment

Richard Saalbach Tatman
Carol Chambers-Workman please explain

Ron Evans Carol Chambers-Workman Richard Saalbach Tatman as long as you are in the UK for 180 days+ pa & UK resident for tax purposes you are entitled to EHIC. However you should still take out insurance and not rely entirely on EHIC. In worst case you may need to be repatriated to the UK.

Carol Chambers-Workman Ron Evans but if you want to spend more than 90 days in an EU country you need residence permit I believe...

Ron Evans Carol Chambers-Workman not at the moment we're still EU citizens! Limits still 180 days a year not the max 90 in any 180 day period that will probably come in from end March.

Paul Stock UK tax resident is more important than the 180 I found out when working in e u and came back for operation. It was a non issue once established I was in taxpayer ...

Ron Evans Paul Stock technically you need to apply for residency in the country you reside in for more than 183 days a year.

Carol Chambers-Workman
Ron Evans sorry, Bulgarian rules. Although everything very confusing at the moment

Paul Stock Ron Evans agreed....and when I was lawyer at a Belgian insurance company the paperwork was excessive.....but now as freelance lawyer in e u it is actually easier!

Paul Stock Ron Evans in France you can be classed as resident for tax purposes ling before 183 days....all down to intention plus centre of your economic affairs....

Ron Evans Paul Stock guess it's all change soon :(

Vegard Kaasen Engen Im Norwegian😁 so Im covered anyway

Donatella Serra I have always taken out insurance when skiing regardless of the EHIC, it's not expensive in the big scheme of things.

Richard Saalbach Tatman Donatella Serra it is if you ski for a month or more

Donatella Serra Richard Saalbach Tatman sorry, i assumed a normal length ski trip of a week.

Robert Bateman Richard Saalbach Tatman if you can afford to ski for a month, logic dictates you can afford insurance.

Richard Saalbach Tatman Robert Bateman strange logic - a season pass costs about the same as less than three weeks, and the cost of living in Austria is cheaper than the UK. We actually find it cheaper to ski for a season than to stay at home in the UK.

Robert Bateman Richard Saalbach Tatman my Austrian friends would disagree.

Richard Saalbach Tatman Robert Bateman they aren't married to my wife! (Wine is a third the price). Also we don't need a car during the ski season so no motoring costs. Food is no more expensive than than the UK.

Donatella Serra I only said i have always taken out insurance ! I now live in Italy which is actually more expensive than the UK for many things...!

Des Lynch Get your own insurance and Go to Canada or the states....

Richard Saalbach Tatman Des Lynch how much would medical and winter sports cover cost for a season (December to April) in the USA or Canada? Is it comparable with free access to medical treatment throughout most of Europe under the EHIC scheme?

Des Lynch Richard Saalbach Tatman
Google it...,

Richard Saalbach Tatman Des Lynch I've spent many happy hours googling and trying to find a travel insurance policy that allows you to ski for a whole season at an affordable price.

Robert Bateman Richard Saalbach Tatman ski Scotland, you'd be covered for free and helping the ecconmy out.

Richard Saalbach Tatman Robert Bateman I like to have 270km of interlinked pistes at my doorstep and to end up with a sun tan 😉

Robert Bateman Richard Saalbach Tatman then you've made your choice, all you need do is pay for it.

Richard Saalbach Tatman Robert Bateman Quite! The difference is that pre-Brexit we got free medical treatment; now it will need to be paid for.

Des Lynch Richard Saalbach Tatman
Or don't crash !

Richard Saalbach Tatman Des Lynch the last time I used my EHIC card, I'd sustained a foot injury whilst swimming in Croatia. Free treatment from Zell am See hospital included putting my leg in plaster cast to guard against sepsis.

Paul Stock Cost of insurance for USA is higher as medical treatment is more expensive in USA.

Des Lynch Right, looks like you are all going to have to fork out then....
c'est la vie

Paul Stock Des Lynch ....yes those without dual nationality or the ability to get it or settled status in e u will undoubtedly suffer financially. It is one of the consequences of brexit.

Robert Bateman Richard Saalbach Tatman we aren't giving up our freedom from the EU so people can avoid getting proper insurance.

Richard Saalbach Tatman Robert Bateman Just asked for a quote for ex pat medical insurance - they said sorry, you're too old! EHIC has no maximum age and covers pre-existing health conditions.
My wife has COPD - covered under EHIC but won't be covered by travel insurers.
Ou...See More

Scott Fraser I got Evacuated off the mountain in Zermatt to Visp Hospital in 2016. The first thing they asked for in triage was my EHIC.

Stephen Williams In France it only covers 80% of hospital costs & no helicopter rescue

Richard Saalbach Tatman Stephen Williams In Austria it covers 100% of the hospital treatment, and emergency rescue cover (all year and throughout Europe) costs us £39 each per year.

Kim Rippin The EHIC card works brilliantly in France and will be very much missed

Jonathan Pullinger I get a back packers / long stat policy that covers winter sports and mix that with the EHIC. I am now not sure what I'll happen post BRexit.

Tony Brant The Government advice is buy travel insurance the trouble with that is they don't cover pre existing conditions, some resorts offer insurance with your lift pass, then there is no quibble

Paul Stock The validity of ehic will end on 29 March. Separate travel insurance (such as via ski club of great britain) thus needed. Problem is that any pre exiting medical conditions may not be covered by travel insurance......whereas that was not a problem with ehic. Always possible government will pull the proverbial rabbit out of that but somehow I doubt it in ehic issues .

Odile Churchward-Gogniat hopefully it will still be OK for Switzerland, as they have just signed an agreement to keep things as they are currently, after Brexit.

Mike Poulton You can usually take out local insurance when you buy your lift pass which is good for skiing...I take it out anyway even though insured.....usual cost about 3 euros a day.

Paul Stock Mike Poulton ski pass insurance varies considerably from resort to resort. It will get you off mountain if injured (covered my daughter when st broke her knee) but not at hospital....that was ehic not the ski pass insurance.

Mike Poulton Yes, it does seem to vary from country to country. Mainly, in my experience it covers off mountain & clinic costs until in the ehic hospital system. In Austria the only thing one of my party was asked to pay was a token amount for their very good hospital food.

Paul Stock Similar when my daughter had broken knee in ski accident 5 years ago here in France. The problem will be for those with pre existing medical co insurance for those is very pricey and sometimes not available.....cost variable but that...See More

Mike Poulton Paul Stock Yes and at 76 I will be further cost punished.....I like skiing in Scotland and it is easy to load up the car including mountain gear and set off.....if there is good snow.

Paul Stock Last time I drove to Scotland it took 7 hours....and after 2 hours the range was closed on account of wind! I will stick to Chamonix....and skied in courmayeur today. Beautiful plus deserted!

Mike Poulton Paul Stock I like Chamonix & Courmayeur lucky you. You are right about Scotland which is why I take mountain gear as an alternative.....In the same few days I have skied champagne powder, ice, bow wave slush and been blown up hill when the lifts used to be crampons on, carry skis and hope to get down...not anymore due to failing energy levels.

Paul Stock If Scotland was more reliable weather wise I would go again. However so far skied 3 orc4 days per week since mid December... and will continue till end of season (effectively a weekly commute to ski!)

Paul Stock Not sure if the f t a due to start post brexit includes need to check.

Mike Poulton It is proving very difficult to sort out brexit fact from fiction at this stage.

Paul Stock 100 per cent agreed... and I am a lawyer who works in e u law and has done so for last 40 years! family are able to continue as before (wife and kids have dual nationality) but that option is just not available to everyone.

Mike Poulton Paul Stock Ah, dual nationality can be so useful, hope it can carry over to a spouse.

Paul Stock Mike Poulton yes. On UK passport I will continue to have freedom of movement as my wife will remain e u citizen as result of her dual nationality.

Kat Bown

Simon Madden EHIC won't get you off the mountain.. buy the insurance offered by the lift company or get some proper winter sports insurance.

Ron Evans Simon Madden agree get proper insurance as the insurance sold with your lift pass won't repatrite you to the UK in worst case scenario. We get season cover through MPI brokers.

Simon Madden Ron Evans true , we live in a ski region and you won't believe how many people think they can flash an EHIC card and get a helicopter to the hospital!

Phil Abbott Wintersports insurance is holiday insurance and covers all eventualities with respect to holiday, or should do. Locally purchased insurance of 3 Euros/day is well worth it, as you'll get instant help, rather than calling insurers to gain authorisation ...See More

Stephen Ford My family travel insurance (plus winter sports) cover has a discount for the EHIC of £3.....I think it will be ok!

Paul Smith You always need insurance. The ehic is not always accepted because many resort medical facilities are private only. If you do find somewhere that takes ehic then the other parts of the claim (rescue or loss of use of ski pass or whatever) are generally claimable without any policy excess.

Ehic was never a replacement for insurance. However, Ehic unlike private insurance will fully cover pre-existing medical conditions.

Feel free to join the debate over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page.

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