Confusion worsens over Brit expats’ continuing healthcare rights

Published:  18 Feb at 6 PM
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Confusion over British expats’ healthcare post-Brexit is worsening by the day as media reports contradict meaningless official statements.

The latest governmental shock-horror revelation is that UK citizens living in the UK should immediately take out private health insurance in order to cover their healthcare needs in the ever more-likely event of a no-deal Brexit. With March 29 just six weeks away, the government is frantically attempting to close reciprocal deals with EU member states which would allow the coverage of EU expats’ medical bills. Should no-deal be the final result of 2.75 years of wrangling, the prized European Health Insurance Card would become invalid, whilst EU citizens living and working in Britain will still be able to access the NHS.
At the same time, Britons forced to return to the UK will have a six-month waiting period before they are allowed access to the UK’s public hospitals.

In addition, ministers haven’t as yet advised on how British expat retirees living on their state pensions and those requiring ongoing medication will be able to afford or even be accepted for private health insurance due to advancing age or pre-existing conditions. It seems this is just another example of lawmakers pushing a no-deal Brexit having absolutely no idea how the other half lives. It’s been left to the EU to pick up the bill, which, generously, some EU member states are prepared to do for those with cancer or other life-threatening conditions needing ongoing medication and treatment. Those Brits who live in countries unable or unwilling to help might well have no option than to die quietly.

The only hope for elderly expats in this situation, many of whom will have been disenfranchised from voting in the referendum, is that British lawmakers include their plight in the decision to vote out a no-deal. Should this happen, nothing is likely to change until January 2021, by which time it’s just possible common sense might have won out over politics. To confuse matters still further, one British tabloid is reporting British expats will be disallowed from flying back to the UK to resume their treatment in NHS hospitals if they’ve been legally deemed resident overseas.

To further its case, the newspaper states NHS cuts introduced in 2015 ban all UK citizens resident overseas from receiving free NHS treatment. The condition stating this only applies to those having spent more than 10 years outside the UK wasn’t mentioned. The same article also states Britons undergoing cancer treatment whilst living in EU member states will have further treatment funded by the EU government, adding the British government is working closely with EU states to make sure UK nationals in Europe can continue with access to healthcare, no matter how the UK leaves the EU’.

It also seems the government has conveniently forgotten the fact that many UK pensioners with additional private pensions are paying UK tax on the combination of state and private schemes.
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