Measures To Combat Fraudulent Ehic Form Applicants
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It was revealed in August 2015 that a glaring loophole has been allowing non-UK residents to fill out an EHIC form and receive a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) even if they’ve never lived in the UK – much less paid their taxes. An investigative journalist for the Daily Mail showed just how easy it was to do so – needing only a single day to obtain the card, despite being a Hungarian citizen with no history of living in the UK or paying taxes to the UK government.

The National Health Service (NHS) has vowed to take action to not only close the loophole but to prevent non-UK cardholders from abusing the card. The service has yet to reveal the exact measures they’ll take to curb this abuse, but here are a few measures that experts are saying could come up in the wake of the revelations.

Tougher Identification Checks

Currently, you only need an NHS number in order to fill out the EHIC form. While it could be assumed that obtaining an NHS number would itself prove one’s identity as a citizen of the UK, it has been shown to be relatively easy to obtain an NHS number by obtaining forged documents showing proof of residency.

Solving this problem may entail more rigorous measures to accurately determine the citizenship of an EHIC applicant. For example, the NHS may require additional documentation before releasing an NHS number, which could in turn be used to apply for the EHIC. The NHS may also start to follow up on the authenticity of these documents before finalising the EHIC application process. This could mean greater delays, as applicants would need to secure additional documents.

Inter-Agency Cooperation

Another possible measure that could be implemented is for the NHS to confirm the identity of an EHIC-holder with the host country before covering medical costs. The NHS currently adopts a ‘soft’ stance when it comes to such payouts, preferring to pay first and ask questions later.

For example, the NHS could theoretically contact the airline to confirm whether the cardholder has indeed flown into the country on holiday. They could also request documents confirming the identity of the cardholder from the hospital or clinic treating them. Finally, the NHS may also choose to run the identity of a cardholder through the host country’s national database to investigate whether the applicant is using his or her real name and if they are, in fact, a citizen of the host country.

All these scenarios inevitably have the potential to cause delays in both obtaining the card and receiving treatment abroad.

Remote Identification

Another measure mooted in order to thwart fraud is for the cardholder to provide additional information to prove his or her identity while abroad. This will complement the previous measure, wherein the NHS takes action to prove the cardholder’s identity.

Additional documents could include one’s travel tickets, a separate identification card and maybe even receipts accrued while on holiday or working abroad. Additional measures could involve the cardholder personally being contacted by the NHS to provide a first-hand account of events.

This would all definitely be a hassle for legitimate cardholders, but they are certainly possible measures that would help discourage fraud.

Do note that the measures mentioned above – from tougher requirements when filling out an EHIC form to personally getting in touch with the NHS when making a claim – are purely theoretical at this stage. But with all the negative publicity surrounding the ease of filling out the EHIC form, it could be a sign of what to expect in the future.

P.K. Chong is the Managing Director of All About EHIC. As a major insurance authority, we provide information and top up insurance for those travellers who fill out the EHIC form for the European Health Insurance Card. This top up insurance will cover issues not covered by the EHIC card.


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