On Christmas Eve the EU UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement which made sure that all UK residents will be able to use the EHIC scheme to receive emergency healthcare when within the European Union. For kidney patients this will mean you can continue to access dialysis, or other specialist treatments like oxygen therapy when you travel in the EU using your EHIC. If you EHIC has expired you can apply for a new one, which will be renamed the GHIC, with GHIC standing for ‘Global Healthcare Insurance Card’. As previously, this does not replace the need for you to take out travel insurance but it does mean that the cost of your dialysis will be covered if you dialyse at a public unit. As before, you may need to make a contribution towards the cost of dialysis because of the unit/country where you were having treatment, but in most cases it will be free of charge to you.
Following our long campaign, there had been a special scheme set up to pay for dialysis care when travelling in the EU if there was no Brexit agreement but this new announcmenet means this will not longer be needed.
See our Brexit page for the latest information on Brexit and kidney patients.
The government has published further advice:
The agreement we have reached with the EU ensures that UK residents will continue to have access to emergency and necessary healthcare when they travel to the EU, operating like the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme, from 1 January 2021.
Our new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) will be available from the new year in recognition of the new agreement with the EU, replacing the existing EHIC. However, people will still be able to use their EHIC after 1 January 2021 when travelling to the EU, as current cards will remain valid until their expiry date. Those travelling to the UK from the EU will also be able to continue to use their EHICs.”
It's quite something that the full Brexit withdrawal agreement includes dialysis as an example of treatments which can be covered. Kidney Care UK would like to thank all of you who got involved with the campaign to ensure that the travel needs of kidney patients were not forgotten. It really makes a difference.
There are some other details which we will update on this page when we have further information. The EU UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement does not cover Switzerland or the EEA EFTA States, which are Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. However, there is a plan to agree new arrangements on social security coordination with Switzerland and the EEA EFTA States that would further extend reciprocal healthcare cover. Should you have questions about these countries please let us know as there are temporary arrangements in place.
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Professor Donal O’Donoghue OBE 1956 – 2021
Kidney Care UK Chair of Trustees Professor Donal O'Donoghue passed away due to Covid-19 on Sunday 3 January.