The UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)
Before Brexit, British citizens were able to access free or low cost healthcare services in EU member states, as well as in Norway, Iceland Switzerland and Liechtenstein, by using a EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).
From 4 January 2021 the EHIC will be replaced by the GHIC (UK Global Health Insurance Card).
This will enable British citizens to get medically necessary health services in certain European member states either free of charge or at reduced cost.
While it is described as a "global" health card, this is something of a misnomer as the GHIC will only provide healthcare cover in certain European countries.
If you already have a valid EHIC you will not need to apply for a new card, and you can continue to use your EHIC until its expiry date. But for those now applying for a health insurance card, you will need to apply for a GHIC.
The European countries that will be covered by the GHIC scheme (or those still using a valid EHIC) are the following:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
From 1 January 2021, neither a GHIC, nor most EHICs will cover you in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland so you will need to ensure you have travel insurance to cover you for medical expenses.
A valid GHIC or EHIC will only cover medically necessary health services, and will not necessarily mean that medical treatment is free of charge. It is always sensible therefore to have travel insurance to cover any additional medical costs.
You can apply for a GHIC by applying on the NHS website here.