By Adrian Bishop
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, healthcare for some Britons living in Europe could be limited, the UK government has warned.
Reliance on reciprocal deals
The UK government has warned that continued health cover for Brit
ons living in Europe will rely upon reciprocal deals being agreed in each European country, if no Brexit agreement is reached.
Brexit policy papers
Civil servants are now trying to reach reciprocal deals with individual European states. UK citizens living in European countries are urged to monitor the UK nationals living in the EU website, Living In guides and the National Health Service website.
Limits to healthcare access?
The guidance states, “In a ‘no deal’ scenario, UK nationals resident in the EU, EEA and Switzerland may experience limitations to their access to healthcare services. The Government is therefore seeking to protect current reciprocal healthcare rights through transitional bilateral agreements with other member states.”
As Halo Financial reported earlier, new legislation aimed at safeguarding the healthcare of UK citizens is set to be introduced. It will give the government legal powers to fund and implement healthcare deals after Brexit. It will also establish the basis for a new arrangement, allowing the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme to continue after 2020, subject to agreement with the EU.
No unilateral healthcare
The Citizens Rights paper says, "Aspects of the reciprocal healthcare and social security coordination section of the Withdrawal Agreement require reciprocity from the EU or individual Member States and cannot be protected unilaterally. We are exploring options to protect past social security contributions, made in the EU and the UK, and reciprocal healthcare arrangements in the unlikely event of a 'no deal' scenario. We are in the early stages of discussions and will announce further details of such options prior to our exit to allow citizens to make appropriate arrangements.”
Spain makes plans…
The Spanish government aims to unveil its plans if the Brexit deal is rejected by members of UK parliament in January 2019. A spokesperson says, “In the worst of all cases, there would be internal measures to protect the interests of affected citizens.”
… so do Italy and Germany
‘Best way forward is to ratify deal’
The UK government says the best way to secure healthcare of UK citizens living across Europe is for the current deal with the EU to be ratified.
"The Withdrawal Agreement is the only way the UK government can guarantee the rights of the one million UK nationals living in the EU," says the Citizens’ Rights paper.
UK clear on healthcare commitments
If however, no deal is reached, the UK has appealed to each EU member state to confirm that they will continue with the current healthcare rights of British residents in the same way the UK has done for European living in Britain.
"That is why the UK has taken steps to remove any ambiguity and provide complete reassurance for EU citizens in the UK. We ask that the EU and Member States do the same for our nationals.
"We have always been clear that we highly value the contributions EU citizens make to the social, economic and cultural fabric of the UK and that we want them to stay in the UK.
"To remove any ambiguity, the UK Government guarantees that EU citizens resident in the UK by 29 March 2019 will be able to stay and we will take the necessary steps to protect their rights even in an unlikely ‘no deal’ scenario."
Pension entitlement will continue
The paper also outlines how pension entitlement will continue for Britons living in EU countries. The UK will continue to pay an uprated UK state pension to eligible British citizens living in Europe, the paper states.
Healthcare for UK returners
Healthcare access will be provided to those returning to the UK. The British government says, "We understand that access to healthcare is vital and can confirm that UK nationals who returned to the UK permanently in a ‘no deal’ scenario would have access to NHS-funded healthcare on the same basis as UK nationals already living here. They would also be able to register to vote in local and national elections.
Benefits and housing assistance
Benefits and housing assistance will be provided to those who qualify, the government says. Education will also be available.
"We recognise that an issue raised by UK nationals is their ability to access to benefits and housing quickly on return to the UK. Arrangements will be made to ensure continuity of payments for those who return and are already in receipt of UK state pension or other UK benefits while living in the EU.
"We are considering how support could be offered to returning UK nationals where new claims are made and will set out further details in due course. UK nationals will continue to be able to access education in the UK.”
Brexit deal vote
British MPs are set to vote on the Brexit deal in the week beginning 14th January 2019.
The UK is set to leave the European Union on 29th March 2019.
Find out more about all aspects of moving to and living in Europe and other countries overseas in our guide