British travellers are putting themselves at risk by failing to renew their European Health Insurance Card.
The card entitles them to reduced cost or free healthcare in most European countries.
A Department of Health survey showed that nearly three in five people claim to have an EHIC, but 68% of these don't know when it expires. The research also reveals a staggering 50% of British travellers have become ill or injured on holiday and 35% of these have delayed, medical treatment until they return home. The main reasons given for not seeking treatment abroad are concerns about the potential cost and lack of travel insurance.
The DoH is warning almost 3.3 million EHICs will have expired by the end of March 2009. Travellers with out-of-date EHICs who require medical treatment will have to cover the cost themselves or claim on their travel insurance.
GMTV's resident GP Dr Hilary Jones said: "I'm concerned that so many holidaymakers are needlessly putting their health at risk, when a valid EHIC will provide them with access to reduced cost or even free treatment. By delaying treatment until you return home, you are potentially allowing a condition to worsen in the meantime.
"If you're travelling in Europe, it is vital that you carry a valid EHIC, as well as comprehensive travel insurance. The last thing you want to be thinking about when you're on holiday is paying unnecessary medical bills, which could cost thousands of pounds."
- Find out more about the European Health Insurance Card.
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