How Will UK Expat Healthcare Be Affected Post Brexit

During 2020, as the Brexit transition period grew closer, many British travellers and expats became increasingly concerned with regard to healthcare when visiting and living in EU countries post-Brexit.

Although we are now well into the post-Brexit period, many of the new rules and regulations can be unclear and difficult to follow. Here we break down some of the post-Brexit changes with regard to healthcare when travelling and living in EU countries.


Can I Still Use my EIHC post Brexit?

Many Brits were particularly apprehensive in relation to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). To put it simply, an EHIC will still be valid until their expiry date but will not be able to be renewed after the Brexit transition period.

It has been confirmed that an EHIC will be replaced by a new Global Health Insurance card (GHIC). A GHIC will offer healthcare protection to Brits on holiday or travelling in the EU. Citizens only need to apply for a GHIC once their EHIC has expired and can be applied for via the official GHIC website.

Health Minister, Edward Argar, stated that “the GHIC is a key element of the UK’s future relationship with the EU and will provide certainty and security for all UK residents.”

If you find yourself abroad without a GHIC, you can still have access to healthcare by contacting the NHS Business Services Authority. It is always recommended, however, that travellers take out travel insurance before going abroad.

Will reciprocal healthcare continue for UK Expats?

It’s been confirmed that the Brexit agreement covers UK expats who are already a resident of an EU country, all of whom will continue to have healthcare costs covered by the government. However, the government has stated that British expats accessing healthcare in EU countries can vary depending on the country in which you live.

The UK government website provides a breakdown of healthcare requirements in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Each country has its own set of guidelines for what UK expats must do to receive healthcare post-Brexit.

Most EU countries will allow UK Nationals to receive the same healthcare as a citizen of that particular country with an S1 form, providing they are living in the country prior to the end of the Brexit transition period.

To be entitled to an S1 form, you must have either a UK state pension or another form of exportable benefit.

Those who had been sent to work in an EU country temporarily during 2020, also known as a ‘posted worker’, were also able to gain access to healthcare via an S1 form.

Healthcare benefits under the S1 form for expats can include:

  • Continued access to healthcare in an EU Country
  • Treatments in other EU countries via the S2 route
  • Access to the NHS when visiting the UK

What will happen with healthcare for new UK Expats in 2021?

UK nationals looking to move abroad in 2021 will particularly be concerned as to how Brexit will affect their move. Those which move to an EU country after 31st December 2020 will not be covered by the Brexit withdrawal agreement and will likely make matters slightly more complicated.

Despite the new Brexit agreement, the full healthcare options available for new UK expats living in the UK from 2021 are still unclear. New expats living in the EU post-Brexit do not appear to be covered by the S1 form, furthermore, many travel insurers are refusing to cover expats, only holidaymakers. Whilst there are annual policies available for those who spend extended periods of time within an EU country, the age of many expats means that insurance premiums can become quite expensive. Post-Brexit, it seems that there will be continued reliance on the Global Health Insurance Card amongst UK expats.

The continuation of reciprocal healthcare for UK expats was a significant factor within Brexit negotiations last year. The benefit not continuing post-Brexit would have had multiple consequences for expats such as:

  • UK expats forced to rely on private healthcare options, which could be costly.
  • UK expats to return to the UK for treatment, placing further strain on the NHS
  • Complex cost recovery processes for the NHS

It’s recommended that UK nationals looking to live in the UK from 2021 seek expert guidance to assess how their move will be affected post-Brexit.

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