British expats may require health insurance for treatment in homeland

Published:  28 Jul at 4 PM
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Brits living abroad face the prospect of needing medical insurance to be treated back home, regardless of whether or not they have been paying into the country’s healthcare system.

The UK’s Department of Health says that visitors to the country have been allowed to use a number of NHS services, but that they cost the NHS in the region of £1.8bn a year. Recent reports have suggested that the UK is becoming increasingly popular for “medical tourism”, with visitors taking advantage of the free treatments on offer.

As a way of reducing the costs involved for the NHS, the British government is considering introducing new regulations that would require all overseas visitors to pay fees for all services except emergency treatment.

Furthermore, the new policy would see some British expats need to pay fees for their treatment. Those living in Europe would still be eligible for free healthcare as long as they can show their EHIC card, which is issued by the country they reside in.

However, those from countries that have no reciprocal agreement with Britain, like the US, could be faced with having to pay the full medical bill. In addition, there has also been talk of adding a 50 per cent premium onto that cost of the treatment which would wind up making the country an extremely expensive medical tourism destination.

The proposed rules could be bad news for retirees who have moved abroad. Many will believe that having paid their dues throughout their working lives they should be entitled to free medical treatment upon returning home, which will not be the case should the plans get the green light.
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