A quick refresher Just in case you didn't know it, if you are a citizen of the United Kingdom and are travelling to another European Union country, then any emergency treatment medical costs you incur will typically be paid for free of charge under the European Health Insurance Card system.
If really is as simple as that! The only caveat to keep in mind is that this assumes that similar urgent treatment would be free to the local citizens of the country you are visiting.
So, if they would get it free of charge under their state scheme, then so would you.
Where the scams operate The EHIC card is available entirely free of charge from the NHS and can be applied for through their website.
You have nothing at all to pay.
Unfortunately, some opportunists consistently offer services relating to 'obtaining' this card for you and they will typically charge you a fee for doing so.
Although this article should not be seen as qualified legal advice, there does not appear to be anything obviously illegal about this.
What you should be questioning though is why you are paying someone to do something for you that you could do yourself for free at the click of a few buttons on the NHS website? What makes some of these services objectionable is that they may imply that somehow this process of getting an EHIC card is difficult, complicated or bureaucratic and that they will be doing something to help you cut through all that and obtain a card quicker than you could get it yourself.
That is misleading.
A few complications The process is simple and straightforward for the vast majority of applicants.
There are however a few potential complications that can arise.
Those might include circumstances, such as if you are not a citizen of the European Union; you are a citizen of another EU country who has not yet had time to become registered on the various UK social security systems; or you are not a UK citizen but your children are.
In all these cases, there are procedures and processes to follow which are comprehensively dealt with on the web site of the NHS.
You should not need to pay any third party to intervene on your behalf or to act as an intermediary between you and the National Health Service.
In some cases, your citizens' advice bureau may be able to offer you specific advice on some of the above scenarios.
The EHIC card is essentially a very simple system and it is a great shame these scams are being perpetrated.
If you are in any doubt whatsoever, try contacting the NHS through their above-mentioned website.