Various news outlets are reporting that UK holidaymakers and travellers should be on the look-out for European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scammers this summer, as fraudsters try to cash in on tourists who haven’t been suitably briefed on the basics of EHIC. Rogue traders are hoping to take advantage of those who possibly aren’t aware that the European Health Insurance Card is issued free of charge to British citizens by the National Health Service. According to official sources there are a growing number of convincing-looking third party websites which offer to supply holidaymakers with the EHIC in exchange for a fee, a wholly unscrupulous and illegal practice which we’re told that the National Trading Standards eCrime team are currently investigating.
The worry is that these websites purporting to be acting in the best interests of tourists, whilst essentially masquerading as official outlets for the European Health Insurance Card are appearing at the top of most internet search results pages so often afford those people not in the EHIC loop the impression that they’re legitimate. What’s more, we have learnt that these fake websites tend to ape genuine government sites. With this in mind, National Trading Standards eCrime team strongly recommend that people planning on travelling overseas contact their nearest NHS provision or check out the Gov.uk government’s central website to avoid falling victim to these scammers, or alternatively by calling NHS Choices on 0300 3301350.
Warning over Fake European Health Insurance Card websites, as Insurance Sector Repeats Message that Travel Coverage is always the Best Policy
For the uninitiated the card entitles UK citizens to either free or reduced-cost medical treatment while they’re visiting a broad spectrum of foreign countries located in mainland Europe and a little further afield; essentially those situated within the European Economic Area (EEA) and – outside of that – extending its reach to Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Experts are warning people that it’s not just the illegal ‘selling’ of the EHIC which gives rise for concern in recent times, as there are increased presences of copycat websites out there which are preying on the unwary and largely unsuspecting holidaymakers, including fake passport and driving license sites, which pose serious threats to individual identities and bank accounts by requesting personal details.
Of course, one sure-fire way to avoid this problem full stop – and moreover to guarantee an extensive travel/health protection policy whilst you’re on your travels/holidays this year – is for holidaymakers and travellers per se to focus their attentions on a dedicated travel insurance package. Widely available from countless providers with an array of options to suit all needs and pockets, instead of relying on the European Health Insurance Card’s much publicised limitations, travel insurance policies are without peers. Indeed, the EHIC for all intents and purpose, fails to offer coverage beyond provisions set aside by state-funded hospitals (if urgent assistance is required and only private facilities are available, the EHIC will be of no value), and it’s also worth noting that the standard of state-run medical care varies considerably from country to country and the card does not cover all necessary state-funded treatment. What’s more the EHIC doesn’t cover Mountain Rescue or repatriation to the UK costs, and it’s now been observed in the media that some countries (including Spain) are refusing to accept the EHIC card, and effectively declining treatment until payment is made.