Brit expats in OZ forced back to UK over spiralling health costs

Published:  11 May at 4 PM
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Spiralling health insurance costs essential for Australian medical care are forcing retired Britons to return to the UK.

Medical insurance is essential for British expat retirees living in Australia, but the ever-rising premium charges are forcing many retirees to give up their dream and return to the UK. One couple living in Albany, Western Australia, have seen their annual premium rise by an incredible 123 per cent over the last 10 years.

The couple are living under a temporary rather than permanent resident visa, so are not entitled to use Australia’s Medicare system, which covers many heathcare costs through government subsidies. Their choice of medical insurance policies has now narrowed to only three providers happy to insure expats on temporary residency visas.

When the couple first arrived in 2006, they took on joint medical insurance through Medibank Private at a cost of A$3,736 (£1,900) per annum. This year, the premium has soared to A$8337 - £4,250 in sterling and only covers treatment whilst in hospital, excluding the cost of medicines and suchlike.

As a result, the elderly couple have decided they can no longer struggle to make ends meet, especially as their UK state pensions were frozen the minute they left the UK. They told reporters that they were happy in OZ and hate the thought of returning to the UK out of necessity.

Co-ordinator for British Pensioners in Australia Mike Goodall said many older British immigrants are finding themselves in the same predicament as regards finance. Most of those giving up and going home, he added, are on temporary residence visas or are around 75 years old and on the sub-class 410 retirement visa. It’s not, he said, the best time of life at which to be forced to move halfway around the world.

Goodall believes around 3,000 Brits are at present on the 410 retirement visa, and is campaigning along with his federal MP for them to be granted permanent residence with access to the Medicare system. The visa, now closed to new applicants, allowed those over 55 years of age to self-fund their retirement in the country. Unfortunately, since the 2008 financial crisis, Australia’s cost of living index has soared, causing misery to expats and residents alike.
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