By: Simon B
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Under the National Health Service, you don’t have to pay for emergency medical treatment, except for medication which you may need to pay for. However, the UK is fairly unusual in offering such ‘free at the point of delivery’ healthcare. If you fall ill or are injured abroad, you may not have the right to treatment if you have no way of meeting local medical bills.
This situation is where good travel insurance comes in. For a premium, the insurance company usually promises to meet medical bills if you fall ill or have an accident, to arrange for you to be flown home to the UK should you need to be, and covers you in cases of theft, or even financial loss, due to flight delays.
You don’t have to purchase the travel insurance offered by your airline carrier or package holiday operator. You’re bound to find a better deal elsewhere through an insurance broker specialising in travel coverage. In recent years, annual travel insurance policies have grown in popularity, and they can be a great idea if you plan to take multiple holidays a year.
In some European Union countries, you do have the right to emergency treatment because they have an agreement with the UK. Those EU countries, such as France and Germany, look after UK citizens if they need emergency treatment just as the UK does for their citizens. You can find a list of countries that offer UK citizens free healthcare at the Department of Health’s Web site at www.dh.gov.uk. To be able to claim healthcare while abroad, you need a European Health Insurance Card (it used to be called an E111). You can pick up the forms from your doctor.