Millions of British expats living in EU member states will lose their entitlement to free healthcare if a no-deal Brexit is the final outcome. According to an Emigrate report, losing their entitlement to free healthcare should the UK crash out of the EU without a deal has been the worst fear of millions of British expatriates living across Europe ever since the referendum result was announced.
According to an announcement by the British government, it would seem their fears were well-founded as, from 30 March, they will face “limitations to healthcare service access” in their countries of residence. At the same time, EU expatriates living in the UK have been assured they will still be able to take advantage of the National Health Service (NHS).
Media reports suggest civil servants are attempting to set up reciprocal bilateral agreements with individual EU member states in order to ensure the rights of British expats if the UK is reduced to “third country” status. A high number of British expats in EU countries are retirees, many of whom have existing health problems and may not have the necessary funds to purchase private health insurance, even if insurers are prepared to take them on. It would seem their only option would be to relocate to the UK and throw themselves on the mercy of the already struggling NHS.
However, a report sent out by the government to NHS hospitals and clinics may well be even worse news for Brits returning to the home country. It seems that new arrivals from EU countries will not be granted automatic entitlement to NHS services, with staff forced to check eligibility before admitting new patients. The guidance adds that foundations and NHS trusts should continue to ensure only those who are fully entitled to free treatment are admitted, with the remainder being informed they will need to pay.
The report says until now, NHS trusts have been refusing free treatment to returning British expats until they’ve been resident in the UK for six months.Emigrate report