31, July 2015: Applying for and obtaining an EU medical card (aka the European Health Insurance Card or EHIC) is always free, from the official NHS website. Certain online entities, however, are using deceptive marketing practices to trick consumers into believing that they need to pay a fee to obtain the EHIC — and the OFT (Office of Fair Trade) is taking action to curtail these deceptive practices.
A report by Sarah Clark of consumer advice site ConsumerRightsExpert has illustrated how the Office of Fair Trade has taken action against four websites for the practice, namely:
The four sites were targeted for their use of the EHIC brand, using URLs that too closely resemble the official EHIC website, were not clearly stating on their websites that they were providing unofficial services and did not clearly state that they were in no official way connected to the EHIC itself.
Reviews and Forwarding Services
In fact, charging money for reviewing and forwarding EHIC applications is not illegal, as senior Director of the OFT Heather Clayton has clarified. The OFT’s main concern is the use of deceptive practices to mislead consumers into believing they are operating in an official capacity with regards to the EU medical card.
As a result of the OFT crackdown, three of the four websites (ehic.org, thejwsgroup.com/ehicservice and ehic.uk.com) have agreed to put a halt to their misleading practices while the fourth remaining website (ehiconline.com) has been suspended.
Low Public Awareness
A separate report by a high profile insurance comparison service reveals that one of the company’s surveys showed that only 54% of UK adults who have travelled abroad are aware they can obtain the EHIC for free. That figure drops to 32% for adults aged 18 to 24.
There are, however, genuine websites like AllAboutEhic.org whose aim is to collate relevant information (at no charge) - not just about the application process for an EU medical card but also about the scope and limitation of the insurance that comes with it.
Interested parties can visit these kind of websites in order to learn more about the EHIC, including issues like unlawful EHIC refusals and simple top-up insurance packages designed to provide coverage where the EHIC cannot be used.
About All About EHIC:
P.K. Chong is the Managing Director of All About EHIC. As a major insurance authority, All About EHIC provides information and top up insurance for those travellers who already have the EHIC. This top up insurance will cover issues not covered by the EHIC card. Contact them at http://allaboutehic.org/
For Media Contact:
All About EHIC
InsureMore Travel Insurance
Axiom House, The Centre
0844 567 8238
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