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WHAT YOUR GHIC CARD COVERS YOU FOR IN SPAIN

What your GHIC card covers you for in Spain - The UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in the European Union (EU).  UK-issued European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) are still valid and offer the same cover as GHICs in the EU.

Beware of unofficial websites. These cards are always FREE only use official websites to apply for your card. 

Information updated 5th February 2021

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The GHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts or being flown back to the UK.

Make sure you have both a GHIC and a travel insurance policy that includes healthcare in place before you travel.

Some insurers now insist you hold a GHIC.

You may not be able to use your GHIC in parts of the EU where state-provided healthcare is not available.

Be cautious if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative claiming that you’ll get back anything you pay for. Costs may not be recoverable under the GHIC scheme, particularly if treatment is not from a state provider.

Check your individual travel insurance covers your healthcare needs

And incidentally the current daily rate for 24 hours in the intensive care department at Villajoiosa hospital…..  was just under 1500€, (and we’ve never heard of anybody getting away with just a one day stay in intensive care!)

What your GHIC card covers you for in Span

When to Apply

Once your EHIC has expired, you will be able to replace it with the new GHIC.

You can get a provisional replacement certificate (PRC) if you need treatment abroad and do not have a card.

Most people can apply for a GHIC online, but some people need to apply by post. See the section below about Who can get a GHIC.

Your card will normally arrive within 10 days.

If you are applying from Northern Ireland, from March 2021 you’ll have the choice of a standard GHIC with a union flag or one with a plain background.

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GHIC CARD

Who can Apply for the GHIC card?

Some people may be able to apply for a new UK-issued EHIC if they are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. This gives you the same cover as a GHIC in EU countries.

Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, a new UK-issued EHIC also covers you for necessary healthcare from state services in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

GHICs and old UK EHICs do not work in these 4 countries.

You can apply for a new UK EHIC if you're:

  • an EU, Swiss, Norwegian, Icelandic or Liechtenstein citizen, and you've been living in the UK since before 1 January 2021
  • a UK State Pensioner or receiving some other exportable benefits, and you have a registered S1 form or E121
  • a frontier worker (someone who works in one state and lives in another) and you've been one since before 1 January 2021, for as long as you continue to be a frontier worker in the host state, and you’re eligible for an S1 form or E106
  • a worker posted to work in another EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland by your UK employer, and you've been there since before 1 January 2021, where the country has agreed to let the posting continue
  • an eligible family member or dependant of one of the above
  • a UK student studying in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, and you've been there since before 1 January 2021

UK Residents

Entitlement to a UK GHIC is not based on your nationality.

The UK operates a residency-based healthcare system (the NHS), which means access is generally determined by residency and not by the past or present payment of National Insurance contributions or UK taxes.

If you are ordinarily resident in the UK and not insured by an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, you're likely to be considered insured by the UK and will be entitled to a GHIC.

You'll need to provide the necessary evidence when applying.

There are certain circumstances where you may be entitled to a GHIC or UK-issued EHIC despite living in an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.

You are not entitled to a GHIC if you're insured by an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland but live in the UK. You should contact the relevant authority in the country you're insured by and request an EHIC.

If your circumstances change, you may lose your entitlement to a GHIC. If you then use your GHIC abroad, you may be liable for the full cost of treatment received.

You may lose your entitlement to a GHIC when you move abroad, take up work abroad or change your residency status. In which case you should either have private medical insurance or apply for your SIP card here in Spain.

Families

Every individual family member requires a GHIC. You can make an application for yourself and on behalf of your partner and any dependent children under the age of 16.

If you already have a GHIC, you must enter your own details first and apply for any additional cards when prompted.

If you're under the age of 16, a parent or guardian will need to apply for you. Boarding school teaching staff can apply on behalf of any children in their care.

UK students going to the EU

If you're planning to study in an EU country, you need to apply for a GHIC that’s time limited to the length of your course. You cannot apply for this online.

You’ll also need a letter from your university or college confirming:

  • name and address of the UK educational institution (if you’re going as part of a UK course)
  • address of where you're studying in the EU
  • details of the qualification you're studying for
  • dates your course started and is due to finish

Complete a GHIC application form (PDF, 678kb) and post it along with your university/college letter to:

Overseas Healthcare Services
NHS Business Services Authority
Bridge House
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 6SN

Non-British and non-Irish nationals

If you or a family member are not a British or Irish national, you'll have to provide further evidence that you're eligible.

You will need to complete a GHIC application form (PDF, 678kb), attach a copy of your visa or UK residence permit, and post it to:

Overseas Healthcare Services
NHS Business Services Authority
Bridge House
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 6SN

Dual nationals

If you're a dual UK/EU national, you're eligible for a new UK-issued EHIC provided you meet all the following requirements:

  • you acquired British citizenship through naturalisation
  • you were a citizen of an EU country, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein before also becoming a British citizen
  • you have retained your nationality of one of those countries

What your GHIC card covers you for in Span

Irish citizens and people who live in Ireland

Irish citizens who were born in the UK, including people of Northern Ireland who are Irish citizens, will not usually be eligible for a new UK-issued EHIC. If you’re resident in the UK, you should apply for a GHIC.

You may be able to get a new UK-issued EHIC if you’re:

  • a UK State Pensioner or receiving some other exportable benefits and you’ve been living in the Republic of Ireland since before 1 January 2021
  • a frontier worker (someone who works in one state and lives in another) and you've been one since before 1 January 2021, for as long as you continue to be a frontier worker in the host state
  • an eligible family member or dependant of one of the above

You cannot currently apply online for your EHIC, you should call the Overseas Healthcare Services. This is part of the NHS Business Services Authority (BSA).

NHS Overseas Healthcare Services
Phone +44 (0)191 218 1999
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

You should only apply for an EHIC if you intend to travel to the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.

What your GHIC card covers you for in Span

What the GHIC covers

You can use a GHIC to get "necessary healthcare" from state services when you’re visiting an EU country.

Necessary healthcare means healthcare which becomes medically necessary during your stay, and you cannot reasonably wait until you’re back in the UK to get it.

This includes things like:

  • emergency treatment and visits to A&E
  • treatment for a long-term or pre-existing medical condition
  • routine medical care for pre-existing conditions that need monitoring
  • routine maternity care, as long as you're not going abroad to give birth
  • oxygen and kidney dialysis

You’ll need to pre-arrange some treatments with the relevant healthcare provider in the country you are visiting, for example kidney dialysis or chemotherapy.

Check that you're not booked with a private healthcare provider, as these are not covered by GHIC.

If you fall ill on a ship or plane, your GHIC also covers you for necessary treatment when you arrive in an EU country.

Not all state healthcare is free in the EU and you may have to pay for services that you’d get for free on the NHS.

What the GHIC does not cover

GHICs and old UK EHICs only cover you in EU countries. They do not cover you in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.

However, if you were already on a visit to Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland before 1 January 2021, your UK EHIC entitlements will continue until you leave that country. You can also use a UK passport to get medically necessary treatment in Norway.

Each country's health system is different and might not include all the things you might expect to get free of charge from the NHS.

In some countries, you have to pay a percentage towards the cost of any state-provided treatment, known as a patient co-payment.

You'll have to pay the same as a patient from that country. 

What your GHIC card covers you for in Spain

An EHIC or GHIC covers state healthcare, not private treatment.

With an EHIC or GHIC you can get medically necessary treatment in Spain on the same basis as a Spanish citizen. This means that you’ll get healthcare services for free or at a reduced cost.

An EHIC or GHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance – it does not cover everything, such as mountain rescue or being flown back to the UK (medical repatriation). Make sure you have both before you travel to Spain.

You may need to pay in full for treatment if you do not have an EHIC, GHIC or provisional replacement certificate (PRC).

How to use your cards

Show your EHIC or GHIC when you visit any state hospital or doctor. You cannot use either card for private healthcare.

If you do not have your EHIC or GHIC with you

You’ll need to apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) if you need treatment and do not have your EHIC or GHIC, or your card is lost or stolen abroad.

Call the Overseas Healthcare Services. This is part of the NHS Business Services Authority (BSA).

NHS Overseas Healthcare Services
Telephone: +44 (0)191 218 1999
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Claiming a refund

In some countries you may be expected to pay your bill upfront and then claim a refund afterwards.

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary). You or your insurance company may need them if you're applying for a refund.

Some countries ask patients to pay a contribution towards the cost of their care, such as for prescription costs. This is known as a co-payment or patient share.

You can claim back the difference between the total bill and the patient share, but the actual patient share is not refundable.

It's the responsibility of the authority of the country of treatment to decide the amount of the patient share and therefore how much is refundable from the total bill.

For further advice, contact the Overseas Healthcare Service on 0191 218 1999, Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

Travelling with a health condition

Buy travel insurance with healthcare cover for your condition. Your EHIC or GHIC will cover medically necessary treatment.

Bring any documents about your health condition or what medication you’re taking.

If you need to have treatment while you’re in Spain, you may need to pre-arrange it. For example, if you need oxygen treatment or dialysis.

Speak to your doctor in the UK for advice before you travel.

If you need oxygen therapy during your visit

You can get oxygen therapy with an EHIC or a GHIC, but you need to arrange this before you travel.

You must send a written request to the Spanish health authority in the area you plan to visit at least one month before you travel.

Find out how to request oxygen therapy in Spain. This guide includes:

  • a letter template in Spanish that you can download and complete
  • a list of contact details for Spanish health authorities

Dialysis

You should speak to the co-ordinator in your UK dialysis unit before you travel. They will contact the dialysis unit in Spain nearest to where you will be staying. The provision of dialysis will be subject to availability in Spain. The Renal Association website has a list of renal units in the UK.

Ensure you make your arrangements according to your UK schedule. Also, there may be different guidance depending on what type of dialysis you receive. Make sure you speak to your doctor before you travel. In addition, visit the National Kidney Federation website, which offers general  advice about travelling with a kidney disease, as well as specific guidance for haemodialysis patients, peritoneal dialysis patients and guidelines for transplant patients.

Getting prescriptions

A UK prescription may not be recognised in Spain. If this is the case you’ll need to get a prescription from a Spanish GP.

Prescription medicines are not free in Spain. With an EHIC you get a reduced rate, but you’ll still pay:

  • 50% of the prescription price
  • 10% of the prescription price if you have a UK State Pension ‒ you may need to show proof that you’re a pensioner to pay this rate

These prescription charges are non-refundable.

Bringing medicine with you

You need a letter to prove your medicine is prescribed to you if it contains a ‘controlled drug’. You may need to show this at the border when you’re entering or leaving the UK and Spain.

You may also need a licence for controlled drugs if:

  • your trip is longer than 3 months
  • you’re travelling with more than 3 months’ supply

Read more about travelling with controlled medicines.

You should also contact your nearest Spanish consulate before you travel to find out if you need to apply for a Spanish licence.

WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO DO IF YOU NEED MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IN BENIDORM

If you find yourself in a serious, life-threatening emergency, you should call 112. This number is free of charge and valid in all Spanish territories. The Spanish word for A&E department is "urgencias". Other important phone numbers to note down:

•112 or 061 – ambulance (ambulancia)

•091 – national police (policía nacional)

•092 – local police (policía municipal)

•062 – civil guard (guardia civil)

•080 – fire brigade (bomberos)

•900 202 202 – sea rescue (salvamento y seguridad marítima)

If you feel you need medical treatment the best place to go to your nearest Centro de Salud.  You must have with you your EHIC/GHIC card and your passport and any travel insurance documents you have, you will not be seen without these.  We have seen people in the ambulance ready to be taken to the relevant hospital but the drivers will not go anywhere unless they have seen this paperwork. Once you have been seen by the duty doctor they will decide on your treatment, your insurance or lack of will determine which hospital you go to, if you only have your EHIC/GHIC card you will be taken to the general hospital which is closer to Villa Joyosa, if you have full travel insurance you will be taken to Levante Hospital (in Benidorm) There are lots of other private clinics in Benidorm some of these will treat you themselves or you will be directed to either Clinica Benidorm or Levante hospital you need insurance because you will be charged.

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