Most people will know by now that the old E111 form has been done away with since January 2006, but what many do not know is that it has been replaced with the EHIC that needs to be applied for and what this means.
The British card is only available free of charge to UK residents, which means that if you are a Spanish resident you must look at the Spanish NHS for the equivalent.
If a British resident decides to work or live abroad, then the authorities should be informed accordingly and the card returned.
The main advantage of the card is that it will entitle you to medical treatment that becomes necessary, at reduced cost or sometimes free, when temporarily visiting a European Union (EU) country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.
Applicants must be over 16 and the quickest way to apply for the free card is probably to go to http://www.dh.gov.uk and find the page to apply. Applications for under 16s are accepted when presented by a responsible adult.
The EHIC is normally valid for three to five years and covers any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, because of either illness or an accident. The card gives access to state-provided medical treatment only, and you'll be treated on the same basis as an 'insured' person living in the country you're visiting. Remember, this might not cover all the things you'd expect to get free of charge from the NHS in the UK. You may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care.
The EHIC also covers any treatment you need for a chronic disease or pre-existing illness. You need to make arrangements in advance for kidney dialysis and oxygen therapy. To arrange for kidney dialysis while you're away, contact your NHS renal unit in the UK before you travel. For limited information on oxygen supply services in the EEA countries and Switzerland, call the Department of Health's Customer Service Centre on 020 7210 4850.
What treatment is covered and what will I be charged for in Spain (including the Canary and Balearic Islands)?
Remember that the EHIC won't cover you if getting medical treatment is the main purpose of your trip.
Who handles reimbursements?
There are none. However, if you are a state pensioner and are charged for your prescriptions, you can apply for a refund when you get back to the UK. Contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for more information. You will need the original receipts to claim money back.
For further information in Spain you should contact Servicio Regional de Salud (Regional Health Service Offices).