The Effect of Brexit on the Health of Ex-Pats in Europe

The Effect of Brexit on the Health of Ex-Pats in Europe

Brexit is affecting a lot of issues. People tend to focus on the political and the financial, but it will likely affect lives beyond the usual headlines. Brexit will have an impact on health and healthcare for ex-pats who live in Europe. The current estimate is that 780,000 citizens living in EU countries. This number is expected to increase as uncertainties loom over the United Kingdom in 2020. The vast majority of UK citizens living in Europe have cheaper health insurance, but this will change once the country leaves the EU.

The EU& Healthcare

Brexit has become exceedingly complicated. After three years, not much has been accomplished. Since the EU allows for free trade and movement of people, many people have moved to Europe for the opportunity and a cheaper standard of living. During this time, UK citizens enjoyed affordable healthcare in their new home countries. The impact that Brexit will have on healthcare can be viewed from two angles. It will likely change the nature of health insurance for temporary visitors and second the fate of the UK government-funded healthcare coverage for residents of the UK living in the EU is uncertain.

Every resident of the UK is entitled to apply for an EHIC that covers medically necessary healthcare that the state provides at a reduced cost. In many cases, it is free of charge during a temporary stay in another EU country like Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland. Issuing 27 million EHIC cards to date, the UK has provided £150 million worth of treatment to its citizens. The nature of health insurance for temporary visitors will change significantly. Currently, we just don’t know how much it will.

Brexit & Healthcare Abroad

There are a few scenarios as to how it could go when the UK leaves the European Union. If a deal is reached between the two parties, UK citizens living in the EU may have the same rights as before and guarantees to healthcare. However, it has been a few years and there seems to be no deal in sight, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson chooses to go ahead with Brexit without a deal.

If there is no deal struck, EHIC cards held by British residents may not be valid any longer. The verdict on the EHIC remains uncertain. The UK is trying to secure individual arrangements with EU countries but nothing is for sure. As the number of British residents moves to other countries in Europe, a healthcare scheme for them is imperative. An estimated 84,000 people are expected to leave the UK for another country, the highest number of people leaving in 10 years.

According to the site MoneyPug, which is known as a platform to compare health insurance, since many British people living in the EU rely on healthcare coverage funded by the government, individuals may only receive a six month grace period after a no-deal Brexit occurs.

Preparing for Worst Case Scenario

While a deal may be struck
between the EU and the UK, residents living abroad will want to prepare for the
worst-case scenario. This means finding coverage should their insurance be
taken away. UK pensioners who currently live in the EU and benefit from the S1 certificate, which means
they are entitled to the same healthcare as nationals where they leave, would
cease to benefit from this and would have to find their insurance. The UK
government has a bill that is supposed to allow reciprocal healthcare
arrangements for ex-pats to continue in the case of a no-deal Brexit. It is
called the Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill. This is one-sided,
however. The countries have to agree to this individually as the whole EU.

There is a lot of uncertainty
when it comes to healthcare for UK residents abroad. A lot of people are
worried about their benefits, and there is no guarantee that their home country
will allow them to keep them. This will have a lot of people looking for new
insurance and as people continue to leave the UK for Europe, they will have to
consider their healthcare plan.