ABTA has appeared in a number of interviews this week concerning the EHIC, including BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 5 live, ITV News and Watchdog.
The European Commission has today requested information from Spain relating to their compliance with EU law concerning the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). A request for information is the first step in the Commission’s official infringement procedure.
Under EU law, citizens of the EU Member States, as well as those from Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland, are entitled to access the same level of healthcare in other signatory states as is available to local citizens in those countries. This is usually achieved by presenting the EHIC card at the time of treatment, with all citizens being advised to carry their EHIC card with them at all times whilst travelling. The complaint against Spain centres around reports that EHIC card holders are being offered only private healthcare options or are asked to provide insurance or credit card details to cover treatment.
Explaining their decision to take action, the Commission noted “an increasing number of complaints it has received concerning hospitals providing public healthcare services, mainly in tourist areas of Spain, which refuse to treat citizens on the basis of their European Health Insurance Card and instead request a travel insurance policy and credit card details.” The Commission states that they have been in contact with Spain in relation to this matter since 2010.
Spain now has two months to respond to this request. If the Commission finds that they have breached EU law they have the power to levy a fine.
Customers should be reassured that the EHIC is still valid accross Europe.