Brit expats in Spain slam May for uncaring healthcare stance

Published:  1 Mar at 6 PM
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British expats living in Spain are furious with Theresa May for her total lack of concern over post-Brexit healthcare.

With just 29 days to go until the UK leaves the EU, British residents in Spain suffering chronic medical conditions are voicing their fears and disgust at the British PM’s attitude. With a no-deal Brexit still a strong possibility, May’s warning that British nationals may need to pay for their medications and treatment after March 29 has caused a storm of fury from those who may be affected. Although the government’s announcement refers to all British expatriates living in the EU, Spain’s expat community will be the hardest hit, simply because of the numbers affected.

Some 300,000 Britons call Spain their home and represent the highest number out of the estimated 1.2 million UK citizens scattered across EU countries. According to founder of the protest group Brexpats in Spain Anne Hernandez, concern about the ending of free healthcare for vulnerable elderly Britons is at its highest level since the referendum, with morale at its lowest and anger mounting as the days pass. Speaking to the media, Hernandez told of one UK pensioner whose treatment costs €700 every month and is paid by the British government through a reciprocal agreement. The amount is more than his monthly UK state pension, meaning continuing with it after a no-deal Brexit will be impossible.

Another 57-year old retiree is terrified her husband’s medications for his chronic heart condition will stop at the end of this month. The couple arrived in Spain in 2007, following a specialist’s advice as regards moving to a warmer climate after the husband had his first heart attack at the age of 52. For the vast majority of those affected, purchasing private health insurance is well beyond their means, even if they are under the age at which insurers will no longer offer cover at any price. Many expats can’t see the sense in forcing elderly British expats back to the UK against their will, especially since a recent report by the Nuffield Trust warned the extra cost to the NHS could run as high as half a billion pounds. A total of more than 100,000 Britons in Spain relay on the S1 healthcard for the costs of their treatment, with the majority having seen the actual value of the UK state pension plummet against the euro since June 2016.
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