04 July 2011

EHIC - passing off?

She Who Must Be Obeyed asked me to renew our E111 European health insurance forms today, and I knew that these have been replaced by something new.  I used Google and found e111-nhs.org and nhs-ehic.org.  The first is a site with Universal Check Services and seems to cost £14.99 per application.  It mentions at the bottom of the form that it has no affiliation with the NHS, Department of Health or any other official Government body.  The second also admits that it has no connection with any Government department, and seems to charge £8.99 per application.  There's another one - e111.org.uk, but at least this doesn't use NHS in its web site name.

Now, all of them are offering a service of 'checking' your application, but the online or telephone application service is simple, free and connects directly to the people who will actually process your application.  All you need is your name, address and a permanent (not temporary 'TN') National Insurance number.  It will even work out your proper address from your house number/name and postcode.  The National Health Service Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) EHIC site is at https://www.ehic.org.uk/Internet/home.do.

I don't think that the 'checking' services should be allowed to use NHS in their web site names.  To me there's a nasty niff of 'passing off'  of their sites as something official, and could catch out people who are short of time or patience to read the small print.  How dumb do you have to be to need someone else to check your name, address and NI number?   Of course, our lawmakers and Google encourage this by allowing the sites to place their ads at the top of the search results, instead of excluding them altogether.  Regrettable - either Her Majesty's Government or Google could stop this practice dead in its tracks.

1 comment:

  1. I agree - never pay for this service - it only takes five minutes to do online. Also, remember the EHIC is only valid for five years - it is very easy to forget.


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