If you’re planning a holiday right now, you might want to add this caution to your list: there are shady care managers out there now pushing travelers away from the free EU scheme known as the European Health Insurance system. The service allows travelers to receive the same free health care that nationals of that country would receive.
The issue comes from travelers being directed to private hospitals, where the EHIC card would be rejected. This is done for the obvious reason: money. Without knowledge of where the public hospital is, unsuspecting travelers in the middle of an emergency are directed by “helpful” cab operators and other tour guides are being offered kickbacks for luring the holidaymakers to hospitals that are desperate for the incoming cash infusions.
Being presented with a huge bill for medical care that you assumed would be free is definitely not something that’s going to make your holiday feel good at all. You’re much better off making sure that you can think about how to keep this from happening. This is currently going on in Spain, which has a very complicated health care system. It has not only public and private hospitals, but a third sector that’s really a mix of the two. You want to make sure that you are going to a public hospital run by the state rather than a private hospital.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is well aware of the issue, and is issuing official warnings to all travelers. UK citizens can qualify for an EHIC card at no charge, and it extends all throughout the EU along with places like Switzerland and Norway.
You still want to make sure that you have travel medical insurance as you may have extra costs that you didn’t anticipate, even with the EHIC card.
Spain is not the only country that is having this issue — Greece as a whole has been rejecting EHIC cards left and right. This is something that directly affects young travelers who don’t have a lot of money, and elderly travelers that may have medical issues that need quick attention without having to face all of those bills.
So if you’re really trying to protect yourself, you need to make sure that you identify where the public hospitals are before you take off for your holiday. You might not need the medical attention at all on your trip, but why would you really want to leave this to chance? Do your research ahead of time and give yourself the peace of mind that you deserve!