British expats living in Spain fear for their futures as many could be forced to return home to the UK after Brexit for care which could cost the NHS as much as 1 billion GBP.
About a million people born in the UK currently live abroad within the European Union (EU). Spain is home to more than a third of them, and a third of those are aged 65 or over, according to research by the Office of National Statistics.
But for many pensioners living abroad, the Britain’s plan to leave the EU raises the worrying prospect of having to come home – and the NHS is high on the list of concerns.
Retired expats currently can receive medical treatment in Europe under an agreement in the EU. But post-Brexit, many could be forced to return home for care – landing the NHS with an additional bill of about £979million according to Nuffield Trust.
The author of the report, Mark Dayan, told The Express: “The NHS and social care were already under pressure from tight funding settlements and growing staffing problems well before the EU referendum last year.
“But if we handle it badly, leaving the EU could make these problems even worse, given the potential impact on both the strength of the UK economy and the supply of overseas staff to both health and social care services.”
The British government currently pay Spain 223 million GBP to fund healthcare for nationals living abroad in Spain.
Although the cost to Spain is likely to be much higher, expats are considered so crucial to the local economy the government does not raise the issue.
But it’s not the only concern of British expats post-Brexit. Many British Expats have been drastically affected by the decreasing pound since the vote to leave, which has gone from 1.30 EUR just before the vote to around 1.15 EUR now.