A valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives card holders the right to access state-provided healthcare on temporary stays in other European Economic Area (EEA) countries or Switzerland. Treatment should be provided on the same basis as it would be to a resident of that country and is provided either at reduced cost or, in many cases, for free. The EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until the card holder returns home. This includes treatment for pre-existing medical conditions.
The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It is important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy in place before you travel.
Entitlement to an EHIC (in all EEA countries) is based on insurability under EU law, and not on a person’s nationality. The UK operates a residency-based healthcare system which means that insurability in the UK is generally determined by residency and not by the past or present payment of National Insurance contributions or UK taxes.
If you are ordinarily resident in the UK then it is likely that you will be considered to be insured by the UK under EU law and will be entitled to a UK EHIC.