Health Services: Reciprocal Arrangements

Health written question – answered on 2nd July 2012.

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Photo of Lorely Burt Lorely Burt Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party

To ask the Secretary of State for Health

(1) how many British nationals who used a European health insurance card to claim free or reduced cost healthcare in another EU member state received life-saving treatment in (a) total and (b) each year since its inception; and if he will make a statement;

(2) how many UK-issued European health insurance cards were in circulation in (a) total and (b) each year since such cards were introduced; and if he will make a statement;

(3) how many British nationals have used a European health insurance card to claim free or reduced cost healthcare in another EU member state in (a) total and (b) each year since its inception; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Anne Milton Anne Milton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The European health insurance card (EHIC) was introduced in September 2005.

A UK-issued EHIC has a maximum validity period of five years, and entitles the holder to free, or reduced-cost, health care that is deemed clinically necessary during a temporary visit to another European economic area country.

The number of EHICs issued in each year since introduction is provided in the following table.

  EHICs issued
September 2005 to March 2006 5,592,334
April 2006 to March 2007 7,189,876
April 2007 to March 2008 4,160,935
April 2008 to March 2009 4,172,428
April 2009 to March 2010 4,540,813
April 2010 to March 2011 5,819,861
April 2011 to March 2012 6,903,507
Total 38,379,754

Due to the nature of the claims process between member states, the Department does not hold figures for the number of individuals treated using the EHIC or whether the treatment was considered life saving or immediately necessary but not life saving.

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