The European Health Insurance Card  [the EHIC].

This comment is relevant to all British Old Age Pensioners in Europe.


From May 1st  2010 if you travel out of your country of residence to any other EEA State for a temporary visit, you need to have with you an EHIC  issued by Britain.  [The European Economic area includes Norway and Iceland, and Switzerland is also affiliated in this agreement].   The card is issued by that State described as the ‘competent State’  for your European health cover.  The ‘competent State’ is the one which provides your OAP - In this case the United Kingdom. 

If you are resident in France, then whilst you are in France, France supplies your health cover, but if you holiday in Spain, Italy etc.  or visit the UK then the UK supplies that health cover.

All British Old Age Pensioners in Europe living beyond the United Kingdom should have received notification to apply for a  EHIC  from the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) in  Britain.

There is an Internet site which claims to obtain the EHIC for you for a fee.  This is not part of the DWP – The card is free from the DWP.


Right to healthcare of pensioners resident in Europe. -  When citizens start receiving a state pension, they are covered by the social security system of the country from which they receive their pension, namely the UK. According to EU Regulation 1408/71, they are able to register for healthcare in their State of residence as pensioners, using Form E-121.   When seeking to obtain medical treatment back in the UK, pensioners are covered by the UK system, and are entitled to treatment without the need to obtain prior authorization.  

If anyone in receipt of a UK pension who resides in another EEA State are being denied treatment back in the UK, you should consider lodging a complaint with the European Commission. 


Community law allows all citizens to recovery any expenses incurred for treatment and medicines, during a temporary stay in another State within the EEA or Switzerland, up to the level of care provided by the ‘competent’ State responsible for the issue of their EHIC.



However!   All is not as it should be.

The situation after May 1st makes for unequal treatment of British OAPs  resident in different countries.

Let us suppose you have severe stomach pains needing hospitalisation whilst on holiday (and you have the EHIC)


If you are a resident in France and your holiday is in France then as things stand you will have considerable ‘top-up’ fees to pay over the Social Security cover. The EHIC is not used.

If you are resident in France, Spain or the UK and are on holiday in Spain or the UK, then all costs involved should be reimbursable from the UK  with or without the use of your EHIC.

If you are resident in the UK and fall ill in France then all your costs should be reimbursed by the UK via the EHIC.


The UK authorities are currently wrongly advising citizens that they will only be entitled to the same level of reimbursement of their treatment as provided to insured persons resident in the State of their temporary stay. This is a thoroughly misleading statement and wrong.


To understand the wider EU condition look at…

Social Security in Europe