International health card

Ours ran out last year but we've never used it so have to admit being ignorant about it's uses. Firstly how do we renew please? Secondly if we chose to rent in Spain during the winter what exactly are we covered for healthwise? As we're elderly the worst scenario I guess could be one of us drops dead or we have to be hospitalised. Can we get and do we have to pay for prescriptions? We have a carte vitale and a mutuelle in France. Your comments would be greatly appreciated.

Google “top up EHIC”. There are lots of firms which offer additional policies.

Libby in France, the 'international health card' is referred to as the CEAM (Carte Européenne d'Assurance Maladie) - the exact equivalent of the UK issued EHIC. The CEAM is issued for a 2 year period.

As a French resident you can obtain your CEAM by either connecting to your Ameli account online, or by calling 3646 or by popping down to your local CPAM office. Importantly, if your health affiliation in France is covered by the UK (i.e. via an S1 if you're in receipt of a UK state pension) then it is the UK who will issue your EHIC (call +44 300 330 1350) - simply because they pick up the tab even though you are French resident.

So your trip to Spain during the winter will be covered by either an EHIC or CEAM giving you access to the Spanish health service on the same terms as a Spanish resident. This will NOT cover any travel and repatriation expenses which, as others have stated, should be covered by travel insurance where possible. You may also find that your French house insurance offers travel and repatriation cover - check it out.

There are insurance companies who will insure more senior citizens (resident in France) such as Worldwideinsure or Staysure - among others. Naturally the older you get, the more expensive it becomes - the price going up with the risk.

Many credit / bank cards offer included Travel Insurance with some of their deals - although you need to check on age eligibility and, you may find, it's cheaper to take out a separate travel insurance policy rather than pay a highly inflated card fee.

Do check out your household insurance policy - you may find you're already covered!

Thanks for that. It is just as well to be informed as many people have many interpretations.

First of all, the international health card acts as a safety net for your travels abroad (from your country of residence France) should you visit the UK or Spain for example, you will need to show it in an emergency. Secondly, It costs nothing but does not cover day to day medical costs other than emergency situations and you can renew online via

Well if that's the case we wouldn't get travel insurance at our age I don't think so we won't be going anywhere next winter! Although saying that I thought someone once told me that if your buy tickets (La Banque Postale) for your trip using a visa card paying up front 100 euros each you're covered for accidents or hospitalisation. Also refunded for cost of tickets if you have to cancel. Have yet to ask this question at our local bank. Thanks Sue

I thought that the EHIC card only covered you for emergency care and that you should still have travel insurance to cover you for things like repatriation ect. but I'm sure someone who knows the ins and outs will advise better.