Expats EHIC healthcare agreed by EU and UK

Published:  1 Sep at 6 PM
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Today’s good news is that, for expats living overseas on the date Britain leaves the EU, healthcare rights under the European Health Card scheme will be protected, as will those of EU citizens in the UK.

The bad news is that the rest of the Brexit negotiations are proceeding at a snail's pace with, according to Davis, ‘some way to go’. His announcement was the first positive news available to Brits living in EU member states, and will be especially welcomed by UK state pensioners unable to afford private health insurance. Another agreement will benefit expats looking to set up a business in their EU country of residence and also covers aspiring EU entrepreneurs resident in the UK.

Both groups might also be pleased to hear that progress has been made on the recognition of both EU and UK expats’ qualifications. In addition, past and future social security contributions by both EU and UK expats will be covered. On the important healthcare issue, both side agreed funding of expat healthcare is the responsibility of the country which pays the claimant’s state pension. However, the UK stance is that the EHIC system should also be available to British citizens living in the UK and wishing to travel post-Brexit to an EU member state for health reasons. The EU negotiators do not agree, and show no signs of budging on the issue.

Although nothing has been agreed as yet on the qualifications issue, Davis is certain that progress has been made. The UK’s stance is that recognition of qualifications should be based on qualifications being studied as well as those already received, with the EU stating its preference for restricting recognition to qualifications won before the UK leaves the EU. In addition, the EU’s position is that qualifications can only be recognised in the country of residence, with the UK saying it should apply across all EU member states.

The elephant of free movement is still lurking in the room, with nothing to indicate it’ll be allowed to leave in the near future. It’s the crux of everything for expats on both sides of the argument as, without the right to remain on straightforward, hopefully inexpensive terms, a mass exodus is likely to happen. The healthcare agreement is important, especially for pensioners, but without total security as regards staying in their preferred country, many expats may well consider it meaningless.
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