EU expats in UK to get free NHS treatment whilst UK expats must pay

Published:  12 Oct at 6 PM
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British expats living and working in EU member states post-Brexit could be faced with expensive healthcare bills whilst EU nationals still living in the UK will get free NHS treatment.

In yet another blow to UK citizens now living within the European Union, it seems a no-deal Brexit would mean they would be forced to pay for healthcare whilst EU nationals remaining in the UK would receive NHS treatment for free. Over a million Britons, many of whom are pensioners with existing health problems, are living in EU member states. The intent to provide free healthcare for EU nationals is outlined in the government’s EU withdrawal bill.

Yesterday in Westminster, Professor Catherine Barnard told members of the House of Lords a no-deal Brexit would leave Brits living in Europe in an unpleasant situation. Barnard, a Cambridge professor of healthcare law, stated there must be a safety net within the withdrawal bill which ensures Brits overseas will be covered for their healthcare costs. However, she added, the bill only applies in the UK, and cannot dictate to other EU member states on any issue. She mentioned the Spanish system which allows contributions to a scheme which covers treatment ad hoc.

The present EHIC (European health card), is a reciprocal deal between the UK and other member states allowing free treatment for UK citizens in Europe and EU citizens in the UK, but will end in March 2019. Brexit secretary David Davis has requested the EU allow the scheme to continue after Brexit, adding that, should Brussels refuse, the government is prepared to foot the £155 million annual bill. The arrangement would cover holiday visitors as well as UK expat residents and would include hospitalisation, diagnosis and treatments, surgery, GP visits and prescriptions.
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