Government acts to protect healthcare access for UK nationals living in EU post Brexit
Author: Ingrid Torjesen
Government commits to funding healthcare for over 180,000 UK nationals living in the EU for six months following Brexit if we leave without a deal.
People already living in the EU who have their healthcare funded by the UK will have their healthcare costs covered for six months if we leave without a deal, the government has announced.
The government has proposed to each EU member state that, if we leave without a deal, existing healthcare arrangements continue until 31 December 2020 in the same way that they do now.
If arrangements with all member states have not been finalised by 31 October, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed the government will provide support to around 180,000 UK nationals living in the EU who currently have their healthcare costs paid for by the UK for a six-month period following exit day.
The government has also committed to covering the costs of UK nationals in the EU who are in the middle of treatment when we leave the EU, for up to a year.
The government 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 six months after we leave, whichever is the shortest.
The NHS is writing to 180,000 UK nationals living in the EU to make them aware of changes.
Modelling has been performed to assess the likely costs of the policy if it is required. This suggests the maximum cost to the UK government if no bilateral agreements are finalised may be in the region of £50 million in 2019 to 2020 and £100 million in 2020 to 2021.
In addition, 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 and 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
British citizens living in Ireland will be able to access healthcare in Ireland in the same way as before Brexit.