UK expat retirees caught in Brexit heathcare trap

Published:  10 Apr at 6 PM
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British lawmakers at a hearing in the House of Commons have been informed UK expat pensioners living in EU countries will be caught in a healthcare trap if forced to return to the UK.

Chair of the British Community Committee of France Christopher Chantrey told MPs British pensioners living in France are in a state of fear and anguish over their healthcare and residence rights once the UK leaves the EU. He explained the ending of the European S1 healthcare scheme would mean expats losing their rights to French reimbursements, thus forcing their return to the UK without being able to access the NHS for at least six months. For those with pre-existing conditions needing regular professional healthcare and medications, the threat, he said, is very real.

Chantrey was just one of a number of representatives of UK expats overseas called to speak at the hearing, and represented a coalition of expat campaign groups covering several EU member states. He made it clear that, for many older pensioners with pre-existing conditions as well as for retirees existing on the UK state pension, private medical insurance is out of the question due to its expense. France, he added would probably not cover this group if they decided not to return to the UK. He stated estimated numbers arriving back in the UK in poverty from EU member states could be between 100,000 and 300,000, creating a massive burden for state services including healthcare.

Another speaker, professor of European public healthcare Martin McKee, pointed out that many expat returnees would not be able to get much financial relief from the sale of their overseas homes, as a glut on the market would see values plummet and owners struggle to sell at any price. Worse news came from professor of healthcare law Jean McHale, who noted that, due to the UK’s ‘ordinary residence test’, returning pensioners may not be allowed to access their immediate healthcare needs. For Britons who’ve spent many years resident in EU member states, proving they are back on a permanent basis may not even be possible given the bureaucracy involved.

Source: Connexion France
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