Brit expats furious at losing their long term right to free healthcare

Published:  30 Sep at 6 PM
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The news that Brit expats will be forced to pay for healthcare should a hard Brexit be the final result is causing fury in Europe’s foreign communities.

Local media outlets are taking up the issue, stating British expatriates paid tax for all their working lives in the home country and calling the announcement a betrayal of ‘thousands of hard-working people’ who have the right to expect affordable healthcare in retirement, no matter where they’ve settled. One English-language expat newspaper based in Spain is reminding its readers of the Leave campaign promise that £350,000 every week of the year would be freed up to give to the NHS and stating that amount should be used to provide free healthcare for British expats in Europe.

The article adds British nationals in the UK are guaranteed free medical care, adding some £150 million has been promised by the Department of Health to cover short-term healthcare costs for Britons in Europe, a slap in the face for the 360,000 UK expat citizens living, working and retiring in Spain. As head of the campaign group Bremain in Spain Sue Wilson puts it, British nationals should have the right to free healthcare wherever they choose as a retirement destination, whether it’s Barcelona, Bournemouth or Bradford.

Comments on expat forums are spurring more anger, with one poster on an expat forum citing the example of his 82-year-old German mother, who’d lived, worked and paid her taxes and social security in the UK for her entire working life. When she reached retirement age, she repatriated to Germany and has been paid the UK state pension for the past 22 years, with her medical costs directed back to the UK for payment. She’s now received a UK government letter stating her healthcare support will cease in the event of a no-deal Brexit, with her son desperate to find out whether her 20 years in her home country entitles her to subsidised healthcare under German law as she’s unable to afford private health insurance.
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