British nationals who retire in the EU currently have access to local healthcare which is covered by the NHS. However, if no Brexit deal is agreed before 29th March this will no longer be the case, the UK government has said.
Around 190’000 British pensioners living in France, Spain, Germany, Italy and other EU countries will be affected and the news will come as a shock. The government has previously admitted it is cheaper to pay Spain and France to look after British nationals than to have them fly home for treatment. If British retirees decide to return to the UK because of this issue, it would certainly increase the burden on an already suffering NHS.
Currently, British retirees benefit from the “S1” reciprocal healthcare rules if they retire in the EU and EEA countries. The S1 certificate helps them and their dependants access healthcare in France. This will only be valid until 29th March. After this date its validity will depend on the individual decisions made by EU member states.
Sue Wilson, who is chair of ‘Bremain’ in Spain campaign group said the change could have drastic implications.
“All along we’ve been told our healthcare is protected. This is a big shock to everyone and our members are really scared,” she said. She called on the government to agree to protect their rights.
Pensioners are anxious about the future of their health care, and there is added stress for those with continuing healthcare needs or currently undergoing treatment.
The UK government is in talks with EU member states regarding bilateral healthcare agreements.
In the meantime, they advise that British citizens living in EU countries register for healthcare under the local rules of the country they live in. You can find more about NHS Advice about the county you live in here
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