In a continuing bid to reduce ‘health tourism’ the UK government is reminding health professionals to tighten up on the checking of health insurance cards for British and foreign non residents when they visit hospitals and doctors for treatment in the UK. Make sure that you have your card with you (see below) when you return to the UK.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and the Carte Européenne d’Assurance Maladie (CEAM)

 The French Social Security site recommends that all French residents take a Carte Européenne d’Assurance Maladie with them when travelling to other EU countries or Switzerland. This card will ensure free or subsidized medical treatment (depending on the country visited of course) and is easy to obtain, assuming that you are already part of the great machine that is the French medical system.

Resident in France?

To receive the CEAM, write, ring or visit your local CPAM at least two weeks before travelling. (the CPAM have an English speaking telephone line 08 11 36 36 46 to advise and help out with administration) or apply online via your Ameli account.


No documents are required by you
Each family member is entitled to his or her own card, even the U16
The card is valid for 2 years
If you are leaving in less than two weeks, your CPAM can provide you with a temporary document – un certificat provisoire – valid for three months.
Present this carte européenne d’assurance maladie to any doctor, chemist or hospital abroad and you will be reinbursed according to the medical legislation and rates of the country you are in (for example, in Britain treatment would be free according to the National Health Service)
If you do not have a carte européenne d’assurance maladie , or have lost or forgotten it, you may still be reimbursed on your return, according to French rates.

English speaking telephone helpline: 08 11 36 36 46 

Resident in the UK? 

The GHIC, (Global Health Insurance Card) replaces the existing European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for new applications. Applying for your EHIC is free and valid for up to five years.

Whilst it doesn’t allow you to go abroad specifically to receive medical care, maternity care, renal dialysis and managing the symptoms of pre-existing or chronic conditions are all covered by the EHIC, within the same framework as a resident of the country you are visiting.

You therefore have access to treatment by doctors, dentists,  in public hospitals, or private clinics operating within the French “sécurité sociale”  framework.

The EHIC does not normally cover the full cost of medical treatment in France and the NHS recommends that all travellers also take out private health insurance, to cover the difference.

Even with an EHIC, you may be expected to pay some costs towards your treatment, but should be able to apply for reimbursement when you are back in the UK, if you are not able to do so in the other country.
The EHIC is NOT an alternative to travel insurance, and it is recommended to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy. Some insurers now insist you hold an EHIC and many will waive the excess if you have one.
Applying for an EHIC is easy. Even if you don’t have any plans to travel in the near future, it is always a good idea to get one.

A UK GHIC and new UK EHIC are free of charge. Beware of unofficial websites, they may charge you a fee to apply.

Applying for an EHIC

To receive your EHIC…….
apply online
apply by phone on 0845 606 2030 or by post using an application form available from some post offices Your card will normally arrive within seven days. Each person you’re applying for will need to provide :
– full name,
– date of birth,
– National Insurance or NHS number (CHI in Scotland or Health and – Care Number in Northern Ireland).
Most people can apply online or by phone but you will need to apply by post in the following circumstances:
– If you are not a national of the UK, EEA or Switzerland.
– If you are studying abroad.
– If you are already working abroad but remain UK employed or self employed.
– If you need to update your personal details or add a dependant, speak to the EHIC enquiries team on 0845 605 0707.
– If you receive a state pension or other long-term benefit from the UK and live in an EU member state (apply  DWP UK.)
– If you are dependent on a citizen working in the UK and live in an EU member state (new EU regulation).

Renewing an EHIC

An EHIC is valid for up to five years. You can apply up to six months before the expiry date. Apply online or phone 0845 606 2030. If your EHIC is lost or stolen You can apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC), which will provide you with the same cover as an EHIC until you return home. Call the Overseas Healthcare Team (Newcastle) on 0044 (0)191 218 1999. (Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm)


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