British government to pay one year’s expat health costs

Published:  20 Mar at 6 PM
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In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the British government has agreed to pay certain health costs for retired expatriates for a one-year period.

The healthcare costs for 180,000 British expat pensioners retiring in EU member states are to be paid by the UK government. Healthcare provision for conditions which began prior to exit day for up to a year will be covered, with the promise expected to cost around £500,000. According to the health minister, the scheme is being introduced to protect the most vulnerable, and is expected to come as welcome relief to those to whom it will apply. Cancer patients and those with long-term ongoing medical needs are expected to benefit the most.

However, the offer is also causing anger amongst British expat pensioners in Europe as it only applies to a no-deal Brexit. Many are questioning what will happen should they fall ill after Brexit is a done deal, with one saying the majority of UK expats have paid social security contributions all their working lives, have retired overseas in good faith and are left without medical care should they become ill after Brexit is finalised. Another pointed out that the scheme amounts to discrimination, saying he’d paid his tax and national insurance during his 37 years of employment, and must still pay UK income tax until he dies. He added he feels betrayed and insulted, asking why he should be treated differently than any other retired government servant still living in Britain.

Another breakthrough for those relocating to the UK is that they will not have to wait for six months before they can use the free NHS as long as they can prove they’re planning to reside in a settled manner for the time being. In addition, pensioners living overseas who’ve already signed the S1 reciprocal care payment arrangements will be allowed to use the NHS without charge whilst on a temporary visit to the home country, as will those who return to the UK whilst part-way through their treatment.
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