Brexit Report: Healthcare for British expats after Brexit

UK Passport with EHIC card

When this magazine started almost 30 years ago, by far our most important advertisers were insurance companies that covered expats who were living in France. This was before the Carte Vitale and before reciprocal healthcare coverage had been worked out between EU countries so that British retirees in France, and French retirees in Britain, were both covered by the NHS and French Assurance Maladie. It was also before the CEAM/EHIC card, which covers medical treatment for emergency illness and accidents for travellers between EU countries.

The future of health coverage is a major consideration for expats and a question without a clear answer so, as for some other issues, we can only offer probabilities.

In the two years following the invocation of Lisbon Treaty Article 50, nothing much should change, although administrations being what they are, there will probably be some confusion similar to the period when EU driving licences were reciprocally recognised but someone forgot to tell the police about it.

For two years at least, expect some hassle, but Britons here will retain their healthcare rights during that period under the present EU agreements. The NHS would still be responsible for paying the ongoing cost of healthcare of British pensioners. Those already in another EU country’s health care system would probably remain so. Britons who are covered by the Sécu in France should – in principle – be able to continue under the same conditions as today but new healthcare rights may not be honoured.

After two years and in the longer term, nothing is certain. Everything will depend upon whether Britain and the EU each wish to continue as before. The number of EU immigrants in Britain is roughly the same as the number of British expats within the EU, so continuing with the present arrangement indefinitely would make sense for all.

Note that most Britons call EU citizens who have settled in Britain “immigrants” whereas British residents in Europe are usually “expats”... for reasons unknown (apart from blatant racism, that is).

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