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Post-Brexit healthcare protection for UK nationals living in the EU announced

The government has today announced that they are committed to funding healthcare for over 180,000 UK nationals living in the EU. If 31 October arrives and a Brexit deal has not been reached, protection for six months will be provided.

Negotiations are still underway with member states but if arrangements have not been finalised by 31 October, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the government’s commitment to protecting support for around 180,000 UK nationals abroad.

The promise of post-Brexit protection is to people who are already living in the EU and are currently benefitting from UK healthcare. This will include pensioners, students, those on disability benefits and UK workers who have been posted in the EU temporarily.

Existing healthcare arrangements are set to continue until 31 December 2020. If we leave without a deal, this is the proposal made by government to each EU member state.

In addition, the government has also committed to covering the costs for individuals who are in the middle of treatment for up to a year post-Brexit.

Similarly, for the time it takes people to register with a local healthcare scheme, the government has promised to cover them. However, to be eligible for this support, people must apply within local timeframes or no later than 6 months after we leave, whichever is the shortest.

The NHS is in the process of writing to 180,000 UK nationals living in the EU to make them aware of changes. The state-funding healthcare scheme known as S1 is outlined in the letter and recipients are encouraged to think about their own needs and circumstances.

The degree of commitment needed will ultimately depend on the other EU countries acceptance of the offer.

Financial predictions have forecasted that the maximum expenditure the government would expect to make to fulfil this commitment may be in the region of £50m in 2019 to 2020, and then a further £100m in 2020 to 2021 but could be significantly lower.

The government has included students who started their course before 31 October in their protection until the end of their course. UK visitors to the EU who started their trip before this date will also be covered.

A final promise is to ensure that people who are currently covered by UK healthcare may return to the UK temporarily to use the NHS free of charge. A no-deal Brexit will not affect British citizens living in Ireland.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: “Protecting the healthcare rights of UK nationals is a priority of this government.”

“All UK nationals in the EU should act now and take the simple steps needed to secure their access to healthcare.”


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