Holidaymakers misled into paying for free EHIC health cards

LAST UPDATED: 4 Sep, 2011 @ 09:19
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Holidaymakers misled into paying for free EHIC health cards

MILLIONS of holidaymakers are being duped into paying for EU health cards which are free from the NHS.

Unofficial websites – often more prominent than the official NHS site – are charging unwitting consumers up to 23 euros for the cards.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles Brits to medical treatment for free or at reduced cost and is in high demand as people head to destinations including Spain for their summer holidays.

Surprisingly, the ruse is legal as long as the private operators state in the small print that the cards are available for free from the NHS, watchdog Consumer Focus has discovered.

A spokesman said: “At a conservative estimate millions of pounds are paid on an annual basis.

“Even the most sophisticated end-user can be caught out and effectively tricked into paying an unnecessary additional fee.”

The EHIC allows access to state-provided healthcare in all European countries.

Without it, a traveller may be charged for treatment.

Websites including www.e111.org.uk and www.nhs-ehic.org are among those charging for the cards, previously known as an E111.

The firms then simply copy the details into the official NHS application form, which processes the application and sends the card directly to the customer.

The Department of Health said: “The government is very aware of the problem.”

People looking to apply for a free EHIC should visit www.ehic.org.uk or www.nhs.uk and follow the links.

2 COMMENTS

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  1. WONDERFUL!, The Department of Health said: “The government is very aware of the problem.”

    To PREVENT this theft from its citizens, why doesn’t the astute UK government simply add to its Application Form this statement, ” Application for the free EHIC thru a Third Party is prohibited. Are you a Third Party submitting this Application for someone else? YES NO ” A deceitful reply by the Third Party is both fraudulient and also permits the real UK applicant to gain their payment back.

    A PRIMARY role of Government is to protect its citizens.. I hope UK Officials start soon, before the EU uses that as an excuse to usurp more power from the UK.

  2. Unofficial websites – often more prominent than the official NHS site – are charging unwitting consumers up to 23 euros for the cards.

    Maybe some sites are trying to catch people out but both the above sites have an ‘Important’ disclaimer stating that the card is free and they charge a processing fee.

    I don’t think that this is unfair. People do have a choice if they want to pay and are aware of this beforehand

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