People already living in the EU who have their healthcare funded by the UK, including pensioners and students, will have their healthcare costs covered for 6 months if we leave without a deal.
The government has proposed to each EU member state that, if we leave without a deal, existing healthcare arrangements continue until 31 December 2020 in the same way that they do now.
The NHS is writing to 180,000 UK nationals living in the EU to make them aware of changes:
Letter to S1 holders on access to healthcare after Brexit
Discussions are ongoing but if arrangements with all member states have not been finalised by 31 October, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed the government will provide support to around 180,000 UK nationals living in the EU who currently have their healthcare costs paid for by the UK for a 6-month period following exit day. This includes pensioners, students, those on disability benefits and UK workers temporarily posted in the EU.
The government has also committed to covering the costs of UK nationals in the EU who are in the middle of treatment when we leave the EU, for up to a year.
The government will also provide cover during the time it takes to be registered with a local healthcare scheme. This is to ensure people are not exposed to gaps in healthcare coverage and potentially high costs while they register for healthcare locally. 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 value of the commitment will ultimately depend on which EU countries accept the government’s offer. Modelling has been performed to assess the likely costs of the policy if it is required. This suggests the maximum expenditure the government would expect to make under this commitment if no further bilateral agreements are finalised may be in the region of £50 million in 2019 to 2020 and £100 million in 2020 to 2021 but could be significantly lower.
British citizens living in Ireland will be able to access healthcare in Ireland in the same way as before Brexit.
People should not delay taking action to put appropriate permanent arrangements in place for after exit day, particularly as for some EU countries the timeframe for UK nationals to register with their domestic health system is far shorter than 6 months.