For many travellers, Portugal is a land of azure oceans, stunning beaches, gorgeous lakeside retreats, and, of course, incredible history and architecture. To ensure that you are able to enjoy your visit to its full potential, it is imperative that you make sure you are covered for any healthcare or medical risks.
Many UK citizens formerly relied on the EHIC system to ensure that they could access free medical care, but the recent Brexit situation has led to changes in the way this is administered. The GHIC, or Portugal UK Global Health Insurance Card, is a new option which could really help; and we have all the information you need to apply. Read on for everything you need to know to head back out and see the world!
What is a Portugal GHIC Card?
The EHIC has been replaced by the GHIC. The former scheme, EHIC, ran from 2006 to 2020 across all EU countries, as well as Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland – the four member states comprising the European Free Trade Area – and offered access to free state medical care during your travels.
Due to Brexit, the scheme has changed to the new GHIC. It should be stated, however, that holders may continue to use their cards until they expire, subject to changes in legislation – each card lasts for 5 years. For those who do not possess an old-style EHIC, the GHIC scheme is a great alternative, like Greece GHIC card. You will, however, also need to ensure that you have travel insurance before embarking on your journey.
What is covered by the Portugal GHIC?
The Portugal GHIC and Hungary GHIC card allows members to access free healthcare and medical treatment across the EU nations. This is the case in the event that the treatment required is due to accident or illness or the result of a chronic or pre-existing health condition. Routine maternity care is also covered under the Portugal Health Insurance Card. In essence, the GHIC acts in the same way as a Portugal health Insurance Card.
What is not covered by the Portugal UK GHIC Card?
Though the Portugal GHIC Card can help offer assistance and access to healthcare if you fall ill or have an accident abroad, it must be stressed that the card is not designed as a replacement for travel insurance. There are a number of exemptions within the scheme, including private medical healthcare, cruises, access to mountain rescue, ‘health tourism’ – travelling to a country for health treatment – or air ambulances, and the costs here can reach between £15,000 and £30,000, depending on where you fall ill. You will also not be covered if you need to return to the UK for medical treatment.
Do I need travel insurance as well as a Portugal UK GHIC Card?
According to research by ABTA, 20% of British citizens fail to get private health insurance cover if they are holidaying in an EU country. With one in every eight people having an accident or illness during their holiday, including breaks, sprains, torn ligaments, fevers, stomach complaints and infections, insurance is a must.
A Portugal UK global insurance health card must always be backed up with travel insurance which is adequate for your plans on holiday. Always read the small print; there may be exemptions or restrictions in your insurance which prevent a payout, or you may need to pay for an add on to an existing policy.
This extra insurance and care are especially important if you are used to the cover offered by the Portugal UK global health insurance card, or the earlier EHIC – you may assume that certain elements are protected when this is not the case.
How do I start my Portugal GHIC application?
Beginning your Portugal GHIC or Ireland GHIC card application should be a matter of priority unless you currently hold an old-style EHIC card – if this is the case, you will be totally permitted to use the card until its expiration, and able to access medical care across the 27 EU countries – this is subject to any changes or adaptations in legislation.
If, however, you missed the cut-off, or never owned an EHIC, you will need to reapply for a new style GHIC card. This is a fairly straightforward process; just head over to the GHIC site, and click on the option to apply for a card. You will be directed to a short form which contains a series of questions, including asking for your name, address and national insurance number. Once your application is complete, you will need to wait for approval and will receive your new card shortly after this. Head over to the site and see for yourself how smooth, simple and speedy the process can be!
If I have a Global Insurance Health Card, do I still need private healthcare insurance?
Yes, you will need to purchase private travel health insurance for your trip to the EU. This is because there are certain exemptions and exceptions not covered by the scheme, and you will need to make sure that you are fully protected under your own insurance policy.
Can I continue to use my EHIC card?
Anyone who has an EHIC card will be able to continue to use this until the expiration date – they last for a period of 5 years. This includes anyone who purchased an EHIC card in 2020, unless this changes and the legislation is updated.
How does this impact any EU citizens living in the UK?
There are currently around 3.7 million EU nationals living in the UK, making up around 5.6% of the total population. It is important to note that these individuals have an ongoing right to healthcare while they are a resident in the UK. As such, any EU citizen who was living in Britain prior to 31st December 2020 can still use the NHS for any medical needs within the UK, and can continue to use their GHIC or EHIC when travelling to an EU country. New cards can be applied for in 2021.