Expats in Spain to lose free health cover overseas and in the UK

Published:  19 May at 6 PM
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Tagged: Spain, USA, UK, England
Tough new Spanish laws on free medical treatment are expected to exclude expats, whilst those returned to the UK for help are being turned away from NHS hospitals.

Thousands of expats resident in Spain are at risk of being unable to access free healthcare in the UK in spite of having contributed National Insurance payments during their working lives. At the same time, new Spanish laws may well prevent them from accessing free healthcare in their host country.

Especially affected will be those who moved to Spain on early retirement, taking into account the reciprocal agreement between the two countries as part of their decision. Until now, medical costs have been refunded by the UK government on receipt of the S1 form, formerly the E106.

The form states that NI contributions have been paid in the UK for the previous three years, but is being discontinued on 1 July this year. Those already in possession of their signed forms will be covered for the 30-month duration of the document, but not after it expires.

Expats over retirement age as expected to still be covered by a seperate reciprocal agreement, but concerns are being raised that this, too, may be cancelled due to cost-cutting. Flying back to the UK for free NHS treatment is also under threat, with many to date having been classified as health tourists and refused medical help.

According to a spokesperson from IHC Employee Benefits, expats don’t realise that non-emergency treatment is no longer a right once they have left the UK. Returnees from Spain, she added, must have been resident in the UK for six full months before they are allowed to register with a GP, and will have to wait at least another six months before treatment can commence.
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