Health Services: British Nationals Abroad:Written question - 269017

Asked by David Simpson
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Health Services: British Nationals Abroad
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the provision of healthcare for UK citizens in the EU of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
Answered by: Stephen Hammond
Answered on: 03 July 2019

Under current European Union-based entitlements, the United Kingdom pays for the healthcare costs of 180,000 UK nationals, mostly pensioners, in health systems across the EU. There are around 50 million UK tourist visits to the EU annually; the European Healthcare Insurance Card (EHIC) is used in around 0.5% of these visits. Moreover, approximately 50,000 posted workers are protected through the current arrangements.

The UK Government has proposed to EU Member States that, in a no-deal scenario, we should maintain the existing healthcare arrangements until 31 December 2020, with the aim of minimising disruption to UK nationals’ and EU citizens’ healthcare provision. The UK Government is working to put in place bilateral agreements with Member States to protect existing healthcare arrangements for UK nationals beyond exit day. For UK nationals that live in EU Member States, the UK cannot unilaterally guarantee the continuation of current arrangements, as this depends on decisions by Member States.

EU Member States such as Spain have made public commitments that they will enable resident UK nationals and visitors to access healthcare in the same way they do now, and we hope to reach such agreements with all Member States.

Although we are hopeful that we can agree reciprocal healthcare arrangements, as a responsible Government we have developed a multi-layered approach to minimise disruption to healthcare provision to UK nationals currently in or travelling to the EU Member States.

The UK Government has committed to fund healthcare for UK nationals (and others for whom the UK is responsible) who have applied for, or are undergoing, treatments in the EU prior to and on exit day, for up to one year, to protect the most vulnerable.

Individuals are always responsible for ensuring they have sufficient healthcare insurance. Anyone who is living, working or studying in EU Member States should check the country specific guidance on GOV.UK and NHS.UK for updates.

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