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I'm 16 years old, from Lithuania, and I'll be travelling solo to London.

In the unlucky case something happens, will the needed health treatments be free? Or is advised to buy an health insurance, because otherwise I'll end up having to pay everything myself?

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    NO, I mean if somehow I'll get into hospital. I don't want to pay for all the treatment there.
    – Petras
    Jun 14 '17 at 13:36
  • No, it will not be Free. But it may be covered so that you don't have to pay anything. Jun 16 '17 at 13:58
  • You will get emergency treatment by the NHS even if you have no money with you. The NHS is then supposed to charge you with the treatment, but many hospitals don't. If you are charged, then it's up to your own country whether they will pay a bill or not. And from July 1st 2021 everything is going to change.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 17 at 21:15
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No, as a European Union citizen you are covered by the European Health Insurance.

Just make sure you have your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

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    That last bit is really vital. Jun 14 '17 at 14:53
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    As long as London is in the EU.
    – ugoren
    Jun 14 '17 at 15:56
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    This is bad advice. EHIC won't cover repatriation costs, rescheduling costs (Doctor says you're too sick to fly back) etc. which can be pretty high in the worst case. Get at least minimal cover for those things still and it should be cheap because having EHIC is probably a precondition in the policy.
    – Flexo
    Jun 14 '17 at 17:24
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    @Flexo you have a good point and I upvoted your comment, but I gave no advice - I have provided him with the answer to his question, which is "will the needed health treatments be free?" Yes, it will be free. Jun 14 '17 at 21:26
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    Brexit is at least worth mentioning, as it is an expected event that affects the long-term correctness of the answer.
    – chepner
    Jun 15 '17 at 12:06
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You should get a travel insurance, because if something really bad happens, EHIC will not get you home, just treat you in the UK. Even if you just break a leg and get a cast, you will need a special place in the aircraft. Should you need a specialized medical flight, that is very expensive. And in case of death you need someone to pay for the transfer of your remains.

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    Yes, don't rely on EHIC to provide for everything. Travel insurance is usually not expensive at all. But beware, that there are differences regarding the length of your stay. Depending on that, you might need different travel insurance or even require to have travel insurance.
    – Sebastian
    Jun 14 '17 at 15:35
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    Travel insurance will also cover cancellation costs if you get ill before you leave, and of course it also covers things like losing your money or passport. Jun 14 '17 at 15:41
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    If you get travel insurance, don't forget to read the policy. It might well be the case that the insurance company requires you to (or will reduce your excess if you do) use EHIC coverage where possible, and in the UK that should be true regarding virtually all emergency medical care.
    – origimbo
    Jun 14 '17 at 17:09
  • @origimbo that would go without saying. No insurer will pay a claim that a superior insurer is responsible for, and there's a pecking order to that. For instance in the States in an auto accident, "at-fault driver's auto insurance" > your auto insurance > your health insurance. The overhead of sorting this helps make our care expensive. Jun 15 '17 at 20:15
  • In some cases the travel insurance will also require you to have a EHIC and carry that with you. That's the case for the UK, not sure if it's the same elsewhere. Jun 16 '17 at 14:09
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Update - the UK has now left the EU, and all specifics of this answer w.r.t. EHIC cards and EU citizen access to the NHS is likely incorrect. I'm leaving the article since some of the arguments are unchanged, but the argument for health insurance is probably much stronger. (But you still won't be left to bleed to death while somebody tries to check your insurance status).


Provided you are an EU citizen with an EHIC (essential!) , then the UK is one of the better places to be without health insurance for "something really serious". You will get emergency treatment from being carried into a (free) ambulance until you are able to walk (or limp) out of the hospital, and you won't have to pay anything for it. You probably couldn't find better treatment privately, if you needed treatment within minutes to save your life. You certainly won't be left bleeding to death while somebody tries to check your insurance status.

On the other hand, our health service is creaking badly, and non-emergency treatment is effectively rationed by making it slow and cumbersome to obtain. So if you just sprain or maybe-break a wrist or ankle, it will cost you a considerable amount of time (= lost holiday? ) to get it checked out and bandaged up. With health insurance you could probably get it checked out and patched up faster and be back to enjoying yourself to whatever extent you are still able. You might also get better treatment.

Also our health service won't pay for the travel back home if you want to return early or miss your booked flight while in hospital. Neither will it pay for extra days in a hotel. So if you could overstay and be looked after by family or good friends, relying on the NHS alone may be OK. If you are on a limited budget and staying in hotels, then I'd strongly recommend insurance. For a 16-year-old with no pre-existing health issues, it should be pretty cheap. (It wasn't particularly expensive for this 59-year-old with declared medication for hypertension, visiting the EU).

Also, travel insurance should reimburse you for your wasted bookings, should something cause you to have to cancel your trip. Your illness, or that of a relative you were going to stay with or who you suddenly need to care for back home. (Some policies have more exclusions than others on this front, read carefully!)

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    How would a travel insurance help the OP to get treatment faster? Do they have a special queue in UK hospitals for people with travel insurance? Jun 16 '17 at 10:45
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    There's no special queues in UK hospitals for people with travel insurance, everyone is treated in priority order. If you know the travel insurance company, they may direct you to a different private clinic, however most hospitals (especially emergency departments) are provided through the NHS (public sector). Jun 16 '17 at 14:14
  • We have indeed now left the EU, so treat this answer as seriously out of date.
    – nigel222
    Jun 17 at 11:10
  • @nigel222 Do you intend to edit the answer to reflect the post-Brexit state of affairs, or would you prefer if somebody else posted a brand new answer?
    – TooTea
    Jun 17 at 12:37
  • I mean, most of the answer is still perfectly valid, the EHIC continues to cover for emergency healthcare in the UK. See ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/qanda_20_2532 (scroll down to "What provisions are there for healthcare?")
    – TooTea
    Jun 17 at 12:41

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