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BREXIT

No-deal Brexit: UK vows to cover health costs of retired Britons for one year

The British government has moved to try to reassure the tens of thousands of retired Britons across the EU by agreeing to cover the costs of their healthcare in the event of a no-deal Brexit for 12 months. However much appears still to be up in the air.

No-deal Brexit: UK vows to cover health costs of retired Britons for one year
Photo: Depositphotos

The UK's Health Minister Stephen Hammond released a written statement on Tuesday saying that in the event of a no-deal Brexit the government would cover the health costs of pensioners throughout the EU for up to 12 months.

His announcement will offer some relief to the 180,000 retired Britons who live around the EU and who rely on the NHS to cover their healthcare via reciprocal agreements between EU states.

Those reciprocal agreements would no longer apply for UK nationals if Britain left the EU without a deal on March 29th or at a later date.

The UK has suggested to EU Member states that the current reciprocal arrangements continue up until December 2020 in the event of a no-deal to “minimise disruption.”

“This would mean that we will continue to pay for healthcare costs for current or former UK residents for whom the UK has responsibility who are living or working in or visiting the EU and EFTA states, where individuals are not covered by the EFTA Citizens’ Rights Agreements,” said Hammond.

But that proposal needs agreement from EU states like France where around 40 000 British pensioners live and Spain, which is home to 70,000 retired Brits.

However if those agreements are not made the UK will cover the health costs for a period of 12 months for those who relied on NHS cover via the S1 reciprocal scheme.

Hammond said: “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. 

But Hammond said it would rely on EU member states agreeing to first treat patients and then be reimbursed by the UK.

“The Statutory Instruments introduced on 11 February would also enable some UK residents to recover costs if they are charged.”

“For UK nationals who are visitors, we will refund costs directly. For UK nationals who are resident in another Member State, this commitment requires us to reach an arrangement with individual EU Member States. We are hopeful that they will remain willing to treat patients and accept reimbursement and are in discussions to seek such an agreement.”

The announcement will be welcomed by the tens of thousands of British pensioners in countries like France and Spain who faced uncertainty over whether their health treatment would be covered after Brexit.

Hammond also announced that anyone who is forced to return home to the UK for health reasons will have access to the NHS.

“Should UK nationals face changes in how they can access healthcare, they may use NHS services if they return to live in the UK,” he said.

“As is currently the case, UK nationals living in the EU will have an entitlement to NHS services as soon as they take up ordinary residence in England.

“A British citizen who moves to the UK can be considered ordinarily resident upon arrival if it is clear that they are here to reside on a properly settled basis for the time being. British citizens who return to live in the UK partway through their treatment will be able to access NHS services.”

In his statement the health minister also announced other measures that may offer reassurance to retired Britons in the EU.

  • Those who have their healthcare funded by the UK under current EU arrangements and are resident in EU Member States on exit day can use NHS services in England without charge when on a temporary visit to England.
  • The Association of British insurers (ABI) has advised that travel insurance policies will cover emergency medical treatment costs as standard that could have been reclaimed through the EHIC, although some routine treatments would not be covered.

 

 

 

 

Member comments

  1. According to this then, if someone contracts a condition after the UK leaves without an agreement, say unfortunately cancer, as this is a new condition, it will not be covered by this arrangement. Sick, and possibly poor people will therefore need to go back to the UK for treatment. This is a cruel situation for people who have probably paid into the system in the UK for all their working lives will now be cast adrift by the present government. What a complete and utter heartless shambles.

  2. Beware of overseas insurance companies offering health insurance coverage for the following reasons:
    There are very few offering the cover required and most are based in Asia. Such cover is unlikely to be accepted by EU authorities as claims procedure and acceptance are doubtful and, of course, out of jurisdiction.
    The premiums necessary to cover a UK citizen in EU are beyond the pocket of most. Enquiries so far produce premiums ranging from £20/35,000 per person pa often with exclusion clauses depending on age, present health etc.

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BREXIT

Driving licences: Are the UK and Italy any closer to reaching an agreement?

With ongoing uncertainty over whether UK driving licences will continue to be recognised in Italy beyond the end of this year, British residents are asking where they stand.

Driving licences: Are the UK and Italy any closer to reaching an agreement?

Many of The Local’s British readers have been in touch recently to ask whether any progress has been made in negotiations between the UK and Italy on a reciprocal agreement on the use of driving licences.

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you’re familiar with the background of this Brexit consequence.

READ ALSO: Frustration grows as UK driving licence holders in Italy wait in limbo

When Britain left the EU there was no reciprocal agreement in place, but UK licence holders living in Italy were granted a grace period in which they could continue to drive on their British licences. This period was later extended to the current deadline of December 31st, 2022.

The situation beyond that date however remains unclear, and concern is growing among the sizeable number of British nationals living in Italy who say no longer being allowed to drive would be a serious problem.

There was the option of exchanging licences before the end of 2021, but many didn’t make the deadline. As has been proven before, this was often not due to slackness but rather all manner of circumstances, from having moved to Italy after or shortly before the cut-off date to bureaucratic delays.

Driving licences: How does the situation for Brits in Italy compare to rest of Europe?

So is an agreement any closer? Or do those driving in Italy on a UK licence really need to go to the considerable trouble and expense of sitting an Italian driving test (in Italian)?

With five months left to go, there’s still no indication as to whether a decision will be made either way.

The British government continues to advise licence holders to sit their Italian driving test – while also stressing that they’re working hard on reaching a deal, which would make taking the test unnecessary.

This message has not changed.

On Wednesday, July 27th, British Ambassador to Italy Ed Llewellyn tweeted after a meeting with Italian Infrastructure and Transport Minister Enrico Giovannini: “The British and Italian governments continue to work towards an agreement on exchange of driving licences.”

But the ambassador earlier this month advised UK nationals “not to wait” and to “take action now by applying for an Italian licence”.

In an official newsletter published in mid-July, Llewellyn acknowledged the concerns of British residents and confirmed that negotiations are still going on.

“I know that many of you are understandably concerned about whether your UK driving licence will continue to be recognised in Italy, especially when the extension granted by Italy until 31 December 2022 for such recognition expires.

“Let me set out where things stand. The British Government is working to reach an agreement with Italy on the right to exchange a licence without the need for a test. 

READ ALSO:  Do you have to take Italy’s driving test in Italian?

“The discussions with our Italian colleagues are continuing and our objective is to try to reach an agreement in good time before the end of the year.

“We hope it will be possible to reach an agreement – that is our objective and we are working hard to try to deliver it. 

Nevertheless, he said, “our advice is not to wait to exchange your licence.”

“If you need to drive in Italy, you can take action now by applying for an Italian licence. This will, however, involve taking a practical and theory test.” 

He acknowledged that “the process is not a straightforward one and that there are delays in some areas to book an appointment for a test”.

READ ALSO: ‘Anyone can do it’: Why passing your Italian driving test isn’t as difficult as it sounds

“We will continue to work towards an agreement,” he wrote. “That is our objective and it is an objective we share with our Italian colleagues.“

The British Embassy in Rome had not responded to The Local’s requests for further comment on Friday.

The Local will continue to publish any news on the recognition of British driving licences in Italy. See the latest updates in our Brexit-related news section here.

Find more information on the UK government website’s Living in Italy section.

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