UK officials call for investigation into European health insurance card program
U.K. lawmakers are calling for an inquiry into the country’s system for issuing European health insurance cards after a British newspaper showed it’s “easy” to apply for cards using fake information.
The Sun successfully applied for EHIC cards with names such as “Donald Trump” and “Theresa May” and a fake national identification number, according to an article published late Sunday.
The program allows card holders to get emergency treatment while traveling and working abroad in the EU. If the fake British cards had been used to acquire health care on the Continent, EU countries would have been entitled to bill the U.K.’s National Health Service for the care.
“This loophole has to be investigated, including actual costs, and closed,” Sarah Wollaston, Tory chair of the health committee in the House of Commons, tweeted. Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, also told the Sun he’d like an inquiry into the matter.
I strongly support EHIC cards, they bring huge benefits especially for our citizens who want to travel across the EU but have serious health problems. But this loophole has to be investigated, including actual costs, and closed https://t.co/SzgwOh2Ova
— Sarah Wollaston (@sarahwollaston) January 14, 2018
The NHS has already come under fire for failing to recoup costs for EU citizens treated in the U.K.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, a senior conservative MP, pinned the blame on EU bureaucracy.
“As often with an EU scheme, it leaves itself open to fraud,” he told the Sun. “We should use Brexit to make systems like this much more efficient.”
Under a preliminary agreement after the first round of Brexit talks, the U.K. and EU agreed that Brits whose stay in Europe started before the divorce date, or vice versa, should still be eligible for EHIC benefits. The program’s future for others remains unclear.