Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh
3rd June 2013 - Playing by the Rules
If you dont play by the rules in football, you get a
yellow warning card, then a red one, then you get sent off the pitch. If
you are really bad, maybe becoming abusive or making race-hate remarks,
then you can be banned from several matches.
So it goes. Its accepted that behaviour which
doesnt conform to the rules has to be dealt with effectively.
That is one of the important reasons we need the
European Union. When a member country breaches the rules, there are ways
of tackling irregularities on a Union-wide basis.
Every citizen of the EU is entitled to the European
health insurance card (EHIC). Holidaymakers are advised to take an EHIC
on their travels so that they can be confident of getting healthcare
anywhere in Europe. The card also covers healthcare in Iceland,
Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The EHIC doesnt always mean services are entirely
free at the point of delivery as they are in Scotland but it does give
access to the same level of treatment available to local residents. If
they pay a portion as individuals, then so will you so it is always a
good idea to have your own travel insurance cover as well.
While your Ehic will cover emergency treatment, it
wont include the cost of a flight home, cancelled flights or lost
In the last week, Spain seems to have been
misbehaving in this regard and has accordingly been taken to task by the
European Commission. After a vast number of complaints from travellers,
saying hospitals had refused to administer care to card-holders, the EC
has taken action to correct this irregularity.
Apparently, many people in Spain have been told that
their card isnt valid and that only private insurance documents would
be accepted. This has led to problems for insurers left to pick up the
tab for a bill they shouldnt have to pay.
So UK insurance companies have lodged official
complaints themselves. For the insured, they have found themselves
having to pay an excess that they didnt need to had the correct
procedures been applied.
Some people who thought they were being covered by an
EHIC later discovered they had been billed, having supplied credit card
The Commission has said it is concerned by an
increasing number of complaints about hospitals in tourist areas of
Spain who are refusing to accept the EHIC and has asked for an
The Commissions request for information takes the
form of a letter of formal notice, the first step in EU infringement
procedures. Spain has now two months to respond to the concerns
expressed by the Commission. Its a yellow card.
The EHIC is a common currency among all the member
states and an infringement of its application will not be treated
I find it reassuring to know that the might of 26
countries is behind this issue. This is a large club and it pays to keep
to the rules and keep your membership up to date.
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