HEALTHPLAN MAGAZINE

Brits In The EU May Lose Access To Free Healthcare Health News

UK government urges pensioners, tourists and students to buy travel and private health insurance.

The UK government is advising UK citizens who live in the EU to buy private health insurance in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Should the UK leave the EU without a deal, then UK citizens who live abroad will lose their automatic right to free healthcare. Furthermore, retirees who live in Europe may not have NHS-funded care after Britain leaves the EU on the 29th March 2019.

For students and tourists, a no-deal Brexit means that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) may not be valid. The EHIC card provides EU citizens access to state healthcare at a price paid by local residents. However, UK citizens may lose this benefit in a no-deal scenario. Instead, the government is urging tourists, travellers and students to purchase travel health insurance.

Currently, there are more than one million British citizens living abroad, all of which will be affected if they need healthcare in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Pensioners to Lose UK-Funded Care

At the moment, if a British pensioner requires care in the EU, they can obtain an S1 certificate. This certificate allows them to access UK-funded care in any EU country. However, should the UK leave the EU without a deal, then the S1 certificate may not be valid.

This could affect over a quarter of a million Brits over the age of 65 who live in the EU, including the 121,000 UK retirees currently residing in Spain. At the moment, 190,000 UK pensioners benefit from the S1 certificate.

Should pensioners return to the UK for free healthcare, then this will add extra pressure on the NHS. The NHS already admit that it is cheaper to fund healthcare abroad than to send patients to the UK for treatment. Alternatively, UK retirees can register for their local healthcare. However, this can require the resident to pay social security contributions; it may also require the resident to have lived in the country for a set number of years.

It is recommended that all UK citizens living abroad or travelling should purchase either travel or private health insurance that adequately covers their healthcare needs.