Many British expats who are under state retirement age, yet currently retired or unemployed within the EU, are able to access free healthcare within their new nation of residence, thanks to the NHS – albeit for a limited and restricted time.
Those British expatriates living yet not working in the likes of Spain and France have long benefitted from this backdoor access to NHS funded healthcare for up to 2 and a half years, however dramatic changes are about to remove this privilege, and the debate is raging about whether it’s fair or not.On the one hand everyone knows that the NHS is crumbling under a weight of underfunding and abuse of services, but on the other hand there’s the argument that many of those utilising this backdoor access to free healthcare have paid their National Insurance Contribution dues, and therefore deserve to retain access.
So let’s look at the story and the problem.
According to the Social Security residual form S1 aka form CA8454, your eligibility to have health care in your new nation effectively paid for by the NHS comes down to this:
“You may be able to get health care cover from the UK for you and your dependants if you are resident in another country in the European Economic Area (EEA), and are liable to pay UK National Insurance contributions (NICs). Or your dependants may have the right to health care cover from the UK if they are living in another EEA country and you are liable to pay UK NICs.”
At the moment many Britons who are living abroad within Europe yet not working, and who have paid NICs for at least the last 3 years in the UK, are enjoying up to 2 and a half years free access to British taxpayer funded healthcare in their new nation.
However, a crackdown is coming, and it’s expected to come into force in April. It is expected that this entire right will be wiped away – although not retrospectively. Therefore if you believe you’re eligible you need to apply immediately, before the right is removed.
However, many British expats have been up in arms in complaint about the removal of this right. They say they have paid their National Insurance Contributions, thus entitling them to NHS access, and because they are not working abroad they are ineligible for any local health care schemes.
Those affected will of course have to self-fund via health insurance which is where using a broker is highly recommended.
Xact Expat has over ten years’ experience in the expat health insurance market and our independent specialists have over 100 years combined insurance experience! With all that experience under our belt it’s no surprise we have developed strong, lasting relationships with the top international medical insurance providers.
When you use Xact Expat you don’t need to ‘shop around’ for the best deal – we do all the work so you don’t have too! And don’t worry you will get the same price by using Xact Expat as you would by going straight to the provider. We won’t charge you any fees so there is no extra cost for using Xact Expat, but you will have extra time on your hands because we take care of all the work for you.
It’s critically important that you ensure you know whether you’re responsible for paying for any medical services you access before you seek health care abroad. You neither want to be refused care, nor discover you have a huge bill when you thought your treatment would be covered.
Note, these proposed and pending changes will not affect eligible holders of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).If you’re concerned about the issue your first port of call is contacting the Department for Work and Pensions’ Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 21 81999 or via their webpage.