In light of the hordes of skiers and snowboarders heading to the slopes this winter, comparison website GoCompare has conducted research with some worrying results: namely, that many UK-citizens do not fully understand what benefits a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can and cannot provide. Should they find themselves seriously ill or injured, they may be left with hefty medical costs as a result.
GoCompare revealed that 59 per cent of UK consumers that have been abroad in the last five years believe that an EHIC entitles them to free emergency medical care anywhere in Europe. Indeed, four per cent of UK consumers believe that it entitles them to emergency medical treatment anywhere in the world.
With such troubling figures, GoCompare stresses that patients seeking care outside of the UK should not expect the same treatment they would receive upon visiting their National Health Service (NHS) doctor or hospital, as very few countries within the European Union pay the full cost of medical care as is expected from the NHS.
Should a holidaymaker be unlucky enough to need mountain rescue or medical repatriation, they should be aware that this is not covered by the EHIC. Furthermore, according to industry figures, an air ambulance flight from Europe to the UK is approximately £12,000. Should a consumer suffer an accident on the slopes, they’d do well to have invested in some travel insurance with a good level of medical expenses cover and appropriate winter sports protection. “It also won’t be of any help if a serious accident leaves you needing mountain rescue or medical repatriation to the UK. Being flown home under medical supervision can cost many thousands of pounds,” said Matthew Sanders, a spokesperson for GoCompare travel insurance.
Sanders expressed his concern that ‘an EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance’: “Anyone heading abroad to ski or snowboard this winter should always arrange suitable travel insurance to ensure they’re protected for any medical emergency. Other benefits of having proper winter sports cover include protection against losing your skis, your lift pass and other equipment, and some even offer compensation if there’s no snow. And with cover from as little as £12.99 there’s really no need to take the risk of returning home with a huge medical bill as well as bumps and bruises.”