The current uncertainty as to what will happen when the UK leaves the EU has thrown doubt over the future of the EHIC card. Currently, UK residents get medical care for free, or at a reduced cost, in 31 countries, but if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, that will no longer be the case.
The government has asked all 31 countries to honour the EHIC agreement until 31 December 2020, no matter what type of deal the UK leaves with. So far,only three have agreed to cover UK tourists if there's no deal.
At the moment, the EHIC scheme covers the EU countries as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein and is used for unexpected medical emergencies, as well as pre-existing conditions. Only Spain,has agreed to honour the card in the event of a "no deal" Brexit.
A government spokesperson has said that it; "always advises UK citizens to take out comprehensive travel insurance when going overseas, both to EU and non-EU destinations. This remains our advice".
The Operation Yellowhammer document says that people could need to pay for treatment in the EU and a minority of patients "could face substantial costs."
Health experts have warned that even if there is a Brexit deal, the EHIC may not continue after the transition period.