Watch out for the Global Health Insurance Card scam: Travellers warned about unofficial websites charging for free EHIC replacement
- Survey suggests many think they have to pay for a Global Health Insurance Card
- This is despite it being free like the EHIC
- Unofficial websites are charging consumers around £29 per application
Travellers are being warned not to pay for the new Global Health Insurance Card as a number of unofficial websites have popped up charging those who want it.
The GHIC, which replaces the European Health Insurance Card, is free and can be applied for via the NHS.
Unofficial websites have been found to be charging consumers around £29 per application which can easily be found on search engine results, according to data from Direct Line travel insurance.
Around a third of Britons have an EHIC that is still in date, while one are unsure when their EHIC expires. Many could now be at risk of being misled due to a lack of understanding that the GHIC is free.
Millions of people believe they have to pay for their GHIC, despite it being free on the NHS
It currently takes less than 10 seconds to find an unofficial website when searching for ‘GHIC application’ on a search engine with five links on the first results page directing you to websites that charge to manage the application process.
One website had even paid the search engine’s advertising rates to come at the top of the search.
The most common ‘benefit’ these unofficial websites are using to encourage unwitting people to use their ‘service’ is that they will either fast-track or manage the application process for ease.
However, the time it takes for the application is sometimes longer than the stated time for the real NHS website.
These misleading websites have been around since the inception of the EHIC card, which was also free of charge.
In fact, millions are believed to have paid for their EHIC when they last applied – in monetary terms, this represents an estimated unnecessary £245million, indicating why attentions have now been turned to the GHIC.
While 43 per cent of people know that the EHIC and GHIC covers you for emergency healthcare from state services, 27 per cent wrongly believe they will get the exact same care they receive from the NHS in the UK.
This is a misconception and travellers need to be aware that the care they are provided will be the same as that of a resident in the destination country, if the resident has to pay for health care, they will also have to pay.
|Type of cover||Proportion of Brits who believe this is covered||Approximate number of Brits|
|Emergency healthcare from state services||43 per cent||22.9 million|
|The same healthcare I would receive from the NHS in the UK||27 per cent||14 million|
|Routine medical care for pre-existing conditions that require monitoring||12 per cent||6.2 million|
|Travel costs to return to the UK||10 per cent||5.1 million|
|Routine maternity care (except if giving birth)||7 per cent||3.5 million|
|Pre-arranged treatments such as dialysis or chemotherapy||6 per cent||3.2 million|
|Private healthcare||6 per cent||3 million|
|Costs to cover mountain rescue||5 per cent||2.7 million|
|Elective procedures (e.g. tonsillectomy, eye surgery, hernia repair)||4 per cent||2.1 million|
|Cosmetic procedures (e.g. dental surgery, liposuction, facelift)||3 per cent||1.8 million|
|Source: Direct Line Insurance|
People aged between 18 and 34 are the most likely to think they need to pay for a GHIC, with 50 per cent of people in this age group believing this.
This decreases to 27 per cent for 35 to 54-year-olds and eight per cent for over 55 year-olds.
Some six per cent of those asked even thought the EHIC and GHIC would cover them for private health care whilst four per cent thought they would be covered for elective procedures like tonsillectomy, eye surgery and hernia repair.
However, it is vital to still purchase travel insurance even with an EHIC or GHIC.
The research found that many have not done so, with Direct Line data suggesting millions of people have travelled to Europe without insurance cover in the past, while 2.7million state they never buy insurance when they travel.
With the average medical insurance claim standing at almost £1,500, it is imperative travellers protect their health and finances in case the worst does happen.
Tom Bishop, head of Direct Line travel insurance, said: ‘The GHIC covers you for the same level of state healthcare offered to residents of the country, not the same level of healthcare you would receive in the UK.
‘It’s therefore vital to take out travel insurance in case you need more than the GHIC or EHIC provides, plus it provides plenty of non-healthcare related cover too.
‘Reciprocal healthcare is a brilliant thing to have, but make sure it is accompanied by comprehensive travel insurance when we can all go away again.’
The research was based on a survey between January and February 2021 among 2,005 UK adults.