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Government Steps to Protect Healthcare for UK Nationals in the EU

Posted in: Brexit, Information Topic, Latest News, News Articles,
Author: Myra Cecilia Azzopardi
Tags: ,

Today the British government urges UK nationals residing in the EU to take measures to register for healthcare in their country of residence, at the same time as it takes steps to protect healthcare for those nationals post October 31 if the UK exits with no deal.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock confirms that if there are not arrangements in place on October 31, The government commits to cover the costs of healthcare by the UK for a 6-month period following exit day. This includes pensioners, students, those on disability benefits and UK workers temporarily posted in the EU.

Note that the government are assuring those already resident in Spain, that nothing should change if there is a deal.

Please note* The instructions for Spain can be found by following the instructions on the NHS letter for S1 holders below. For those that may find difficulty in following the links the situation for Spain as described by the UK government: “Healthcare after Brexit
If there is a deal and you are resident in Spain, your current rights on access to healthcare in Spain will remain the same as long as you remain a resident in Spain.

If there’s no deal, the UK and Spain have each taken steps to ensure that people living in each country can continue to access healthcare as they do now until at least 31 December 2020. This means that if you are currently living in Spain and the UK currently pays for your healthcare, for example you are an S1 form holder, your healthcare access will remain the same after 31 October 2019 until at least December 2020.

UK-issued European Health Insurance Care (EHIC) holders in Spain, such as tourists, students and some workers, will also be able to continue to access healthcare in the same way until at least 31 December 2020.

If you are an S1 holder your UK-issued EHIC may not be valid for travel to other European member states. In either case, you must ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance.UK nationals in the EU who are in the middle of treatment have been assured that the costs of their treatment will be covered when the UK leaves the EU, for up to a year”.

The government states that “it will also provide cover during the time it takes to be registered with a local healthcare scheme. This is to ensure people are not exposed to gaps in healthcare coverage and potentially high costs while they register for healthcare locally. To be eligible for this support, people must apply within local timeframes or no later than 6 months after we leave, whichever is the shortest”.

The NHS Business Service Authority had drafted information which is being sent out to all those covered at present for healthcare from UK government coffers. Read the letter here.

Sent by bulk no deal emails the government states that:

“The value of the commitment will ultimately depend on which EU countries accept the government’s offer. Modelling has been performed to assess the likely costs of the policy if it is required. This suggests the maximum expenditure the government would expect to make under this commitment if no further bilateral agreements are finalised may be in the region of £50 million in 2019 to 2020 and £100 million in 2020 to 2021 but could be significantly lower”. For the information on Spain you need to open the letter above where it states ”

In addition to this, the government has committed to:

“cover the healthcare costs for students who began their courses in the EU ahead of 31 October for the duration of their course

cover the healthcare costs of UK visitors to the EU who commenced their trip before the UK left the EU until they return to the UK

ensure that people currently insured by the UK living in the EU can return to use the NHS temporarily in England, Wales and Scotland free of charge”.

That the plans UK nationals make for healthcare cover should not be permanent as the government hopes to strike a deal with the EU.

The UK government states that: “All UK nationals in the EU should act now and take the simple steps needed to secure their access to healthcare”.

(CAB says: It is not possible to register for healthcare under public funds if you can export your care from your home country. This is still the case for all those who were issued with an S1)

This delivery comes on the same day as the Spanish government warns that it will not protect the rights of UK nationals in Spain as drafted in the Royal Decree of March earlier this year if the UK government does not reciprocate. The Contingency Plan (simplified with a draft on our Brexit link), makes it quite clear that Spain expects reciprocity within two months from the exit date but has not had this reassurance from the UK to date.

UK nationals who are holders of the S1, Spain cannot register for healthcare under Spanish regulations considering the refusal of the regional health authorities to implement the Universal Healthcare Law of July 2018. These instructions could change and we wait for further notice.

Please note: The information provided is based upon our understanding of current legislation. It is not legal advice but is provided freely to enable you to be properly informed. We recommend that if you are considering taking action, you should seek professional advice.

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