There has been much discussion about the possible impact Brexit might have on the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Currently UK citizens can secure necessary state healthcare treatment, free, or at reduced cost, when travelling in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. The card is hugely popular, being carried by some 27 million people according to the Department of Health.

 

Of course the EHIC only covers temporary stays in participating countries. The available benefits also vary between countries with none covering the cost of things like medical repatriation. That’s why the EHIC should only be seen as a complement to, rather than replacement for, personal or business travel insurance. For those actually resident in participating countries the EHIC is irrelevant: they need either prove eligible for state healthcare in their host nation, or be protected by private international medical insurance.

 

The EHIC is not, though, a European Union initiative. Travellers need have no immediate concern or dismay at the possible loss of this prized benefit. It will not disappear at the EU’s behest when Article 50 is triggered. Its future is actually dependent upon the UK’s relationship with the EEA and if we’re in or out of the Single Market.

Whilst we might have some idea of the direction of political travel, we don’t as yet know for certain quite what our destination is going to be.

There is one group of UK citizens though for which, in the the here and now, there is no such uncertainty.

Health insurance in the Crown dependencies

There are three British Crown dependencies: the Bailiwick of Guernsey, Bailiwick of Jersey and the Isle of Man. These territories operate semi-autonomously of the UK government. This means they have their own political representations and administer their own healthcare systems.

They do not offer EHIC protection (this is true too of the Principality of Monaco, Republic of San Marino and Vatican City).

However, both the Isle of Man and Jersey have struck reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK government. This means that if you qualify for NHS healthcare then you can also receive emergency treatment on either of these islands free of specific emergency treatment charges.

On Jersey this applies only if your visit to the island is intended to last less than three months, with both agreements designed to serve those visiting rather than moving permanently to these territories.

Guernsey, which also covers Alderney and Sark, has no reciprocal health agreement with the UK. This means that UK citizens visiting these islands must pay for Emergency Department treatment.

Here the charges for a visit for just advice and assessment range from £55 to £165, depending upon the day and time you drop by A&E. You must then add any applicable fees if you need a consultation, treatment and medication, with a charging scale running for £45 to £340.

The whole of Guernsey’s healthcare system is private, from GPs, dentists and through to physiotherapists and other health professionals. So resident or visitor, you must pay. It is not surprising then that the States of Guernsey, the islands’ parliamentary administration, strongly recommends that visitors take out private medical insurance.

Indeed, if you’re visiting any country outside the UK it is strongly advised (not least by our own Foreign & Commonwealth Office) that you take out travel insurance. This is because whether the EHIC or a reciprocal health agreement applies, you can still benefit from non-emergency care and the potentially huge cost of, say, an air ambulance to get you back home and under NHS care.

Does private health insurance cover the Channel Islands and Isle of Man?

There is no one simple answer to this question because the cover available will depend upon both the insurer and policy chosen.

Insurers typically offer a choice of hospital lists. The cost of your private medical insurance will in part be determined by the list chosen. A more extensive list will attract a higher premium, but give you greater choice of where you can be treated and the specialisms offered.

For example Bupa’s Essential Access hospital list includes Guernsey’s Princess Elizabeth Hospital, five treatment and diagnostic facilities on Jersey and the Isle of Man’s Noble Hospital. But all are excluded from the private healthcare insurer’s Extended Choice lists.

So, if you think you need health insurance for a Crown dependency, you should carefully ready the policy before you sign on the dotted line.

If you’re going to be working in the Channel Islands, Isle of Man or anywhere outside the UK, then you could well benefit from international or European health insurance. This can either be purchased by you as a private individual, or be provided by your employer through a group risk scheme.

Whilst the benefits and limits will vary, these policies can help not simply with emergency but more everyday healthcare treatments. This might be things like GP consultations and attention for minor ailments or injuries which arise when you’re abroad.

  • If you have any questions about health insurance for the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, or international medical insurance, we’d be pleased to help. You can call our expert advisers on 0800 018 3633 (for individuals) or 01254 504910 (for businesses and organisations).

Chase Templeton Limited is registered in England and Wales No. 3299980 – registered address: 5 Arkwright Road, Blackburn Interchange, Darwen, BB3 0FG. Towergate Underwriting Group Limited is registered in England and Wales No. 4043759 – registered address: Towergate House Eclipse Park Sittingbourne Road Maidstone Kent ME14 3EN.  VAT Registration No: 447284724.