UK government to scrap reciprocal healthcare plan with EU countries

Published:  11 Feb at 6 PM
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The British government is about to scrap part of the reciprocal healthcare agreement which ensures UK citizens can receive free healthcare in other EU countries.

At present, expats and visitors who need healthcare in other EU countries such as France and Spain and do not qualify via employment are entitled to the service for free. As part of a cost-cutting exercise, the facility will no longer be available to Uk citizens under the age of 65, as the National Health Service will no longer reimburse other EU states for health costs incurred by expats, holidaymakers or visitors from the UK.

The move is expected to affect many thousands of expat Brits who have taken early retirement, and who are used to at least 2.5 years of free healthcare in their chosen EU country, dependent on their social security contributions. Expats living in France will be badly affected as they will be forced to take out private insurance, and have just learned that their winter fuel payment will be stopped.

Those living in Spain will also face the need for private health insurance, with many already the victims of a crackdown on expats using the free Spanish service. The change, due to come into force on 1 April, forms part of a National Health Service efficiency review aiming at ending the culture of health tourism to the UK, and is likely to leave thousands of expats with serious pre-existing conditions unable to afford private insurance.
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