Health and Health Insurance
Unlike the previous major tournament in Brazil, the issue of health and health insurance isn’t perhaps at the forefront of most travellers’ minds with the lack of regular reminders to take anti-malarial tablets and ensure you have a yellow fever vaccine.
But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be prepared for the relatively short trip across the English channel, and there are a few do’s and don’ts we’d like to make you aware of.
The overall standard of health and hygiene in France is very good. Like at home, the health system is there to treat all members of society, and as an EU citizen, providing you hold a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) state-provided healthcare treatments should be free or heavily discounted at point of use.
It will cover immediate and clinically necessary state-funded treatment until your planned return home. It also covers the treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care.
The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance – it will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs such as mountain rescue in ski resorts or being flown back home.
It is therefore important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy in place before you travel. Some insurers now insist you hold an EHIC, and many will waive the excess if you have one.
You can find out more details, including how to apply online at https://www.ehic.org.uk/. Beware any website that looks to charge you for applying, or will charge you ‘only a small amount’ for processing your application – the EHIC is free, and the application process is straight-forward.
There’s also a handy app for all smartphones (iPhone, Android and Windows), detailing how to use the card in France. We’d recommend downloading this before abroad this summer.
We recommend that you check that your travel or health insurance will cover you for all eventualities while in France. If you’re planning on undertaking any active pursuits (skiing in the alps, skydiving, bungee jumping, that sort of thing) be sure that such activities are covered, along with potentially serious costs such as repatriation in the case of a major accident.
If you’re planning on travelling back and forth between home and France during the tournament between matches, be sure that you have multi-trip insurance, or a policy valid for the full period of time. Being optimistic, be sure that your insurance is valid for the full duration of your potential trip, all the way up to the final on 10th July.
If you do require any treatment, be sure to keep copies of all appropriate paperwork. Most policies require you to pay the bills for immediate treatment first (on credit or debit card) and reclaim applicable expenses from the insurance company upon your return. Failure to keep any documents could land you with an expensive bill you thought was covered.
Pharmacies can be found throughout all host cities, often marked out with a neon green + sign. Each city typically has one or two pharmacies that are open 24 hours, alongside 24 hour emergency treatment at the hospital.
If you are currently taking medication make sure to travel to France with enough to cover you full trip, and where possible it should still be it in its original packaging.
If you can find the chemical name of the drug(s) concerned, particularly if it’s a branded treatment, so much the better – this will make things much easier for local pharmacists to find an equivalent or for a doctor to understand what you have taken should you require emergency treatment.
Before you go
We’d recommend making sure you’re up-to-date on all your usual vaccinations, including tetanus, measles-mumps-rubella, diphtheria, polio and your flu jab if you regularly receive one.
If you’re a glasses wearer we recommend bringing a spare pair, or at the very least making a note of your prescription should you lose/damage your specs.
It’s handy to know things such as your blood group and if you suffer from severe allergies, it’s also worthwhile to make a note of the translation of any allergens so that you can avoid potential problems.
If you carry needles or syringes (such as for administering diabetes) it’s best to have a letter from your GP or a copy of your prescription to explain the necessity for the medication.