Easy travel distance and good transport have made France a massively popular holiday destination for the British. The close ties between the two nations also mean business travel between France and the UK is substantial.
Thanks to something called an EHIC card, it has been possible for both leisure and business visitors to enjoy free or lower-cost health services while visiting this country across the Channel. However, what happens now the UK has left the EU?
This guide answers that question and more, including explaining the ways to apply for – and use – a France UK Global Health Insurance Card.
What is a France Health Insurance Card?
The purpose of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) was to help you to access free or reduced-price health services while travelling or staying in Europe. It was based on a reciprocal agreement within the EU.
The France UK Global Health Insurance Card is based on a similar reciprocal agreement. The only real difference is that it now solely covers the 27 states within the EU (not Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland). As the initiative develops, you may be able to use a GHIC in other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand.
For now, your France GHIC card saves you money when you need medical treatment while on holiday there. Plus, you can use it in other countries on future holidays.
Is it worth making a France GHIC application?
It’s common to think that your travel insurance covers all eventualities, including any diagnosis and treatments you need while on holiday. This is not the case! Also, it would be lovely to think that vacations, short breaks and business trips to France will always go smoothly.
One of the biggest reasons to visit France is its stunning and romantic capital and the joys of Disneyland Paris. However, even on culture or theme park breaks accidents and illnesses happen!
Also, many British people choose France as the perfect destination for driving holidays. Sadly, accidents on the roads can leave you in need of medical assistance.
Then, of course, there are popular holidays to the French Alps. Part of Europe’s most impressive mountain range, this is a fabulous place to go for skiing, climbing, walking and cycling holidays. Which is why it attracts 60-80 million visitors each year! Any form of activity holiday makes a France UK Global Health Insurance Card absolutely vital.
Even beach holidays along France’s glorious Mediterranean beaches have their perils. Not least the danger of a serious case of sunburn!
How would you use a France GHIC card?
You make a France GHIC or Belgium GHIC card application before your trip. The card can be used for some years (the exact timeframe has yet to be announced).
When on holiday in France, you need to show your France GHIC card to any doctors or hospitals you need to use. The actual arrangements you benefit from may be updated now the GHIC is in place but are likely to be the same or similar to the following EHIC provision.
If you need to consult a doctor or dentist, under the terms of your France GHIC you must find one who is part of the state healthcare system (or conventionné). To be clear, you can’t use your France UK GHIC card for private healthcare providers.
It is likely you will pay the doctor or dentist, and then apply for a reimbursement. So, keep receipts and treatment forms to get your money back.
What about using your France Health Insurance Card for hospital treatment? If you show your card when you arrive at the hospital, you may well get free treatment. However, some state-funded hospitals ask for a patient contribution, which applies to their own citizens too.
Staying in hospital in France will incur costs that you must meet. Also, for some specialist treatments, you may be charged. You can use your France GHIC or Bulgaria GHIC card to secure a full refund when you return home.
Prescription costs are refundable. In France, these include a ‘prescription’ or prior authorisation needed to ride in an ambulance, or an air ambulance.
For any refundable health charges, use your France Global Health Insurance Card to claim at a local CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie) office. Or, contact the NHS on your return.
How to make a France GHIC Application
You can apply for a France GHIC on behalf of yourself, and for other members of your family. Eligibility criteria for a France UK GHIC card involve proving your identity, permanent address and citizenship of the UK.
The application is processed by the NHS, though some people prefer to save time and hassle by using a specialist France Health Insurance Card service.
Once you have your France GHIC or Croatia GHIC card, you can still benefit from free or reduced-price health services if it is lost, stolen, forgotten or damaged beyond repair. While in France, contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Services (Monday to Friday, 8 am-6 pm). The number is +44 (0)191 218 1999.
They use your national insurance number to check you have a valid EHIC or GHIC, then issue a Provisional Replacement Certificate. A PRC is like a temporary France GHIC card.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I have an EHIC, do I still need a France GHIC?
Under the new reciprocal healthcare arrangements, it is possible to continue to use an EHIC if it is still valid. For new applicants (or when your EHIC expires), you must apply for a France UK Global Health Insurance Card. You can use this GHIC in other EU countries on future trips.
Can I pre-arrange health care services with a France UK GHIC card?
A France GHIC helps you to get urgent and unavoidable health services while staying or travelling in the country. This includes treatments connected to a long-standing condition. For instance, dialysis at a French clinic. Speak to your GP about this and make sure your France GHIC card can be used.
It does not help you to off-set costs if you choose to travel to France for an operation, specialist treatment or to give birth.
Do I still need travel insurance if I have a France GHIC card?
Definitely! Travel insurance covers you for diverse eventualities, including some medical costs not covered by your France GHIC. Some travel insurance companies now insist you have a GHIC though, as it ensures some degree of free or reduced-cost health care.