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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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TRAVEL NEWS

Summer travel between Spain and the UK: What can I not pack in my suitcase?

If you're travelling between Spain and the UK this summer and want to take some of your favourite treats with you, here's what you should know about the food and drink rules post-Brexit so you don't get caught out by customs.

Summer travel between Spain and the UK: What can I not pack in my suitcase?

Flying to the UK from Spain

For those flying to the UK from Spain, the rules are relatively lax.

Note, if you’re spending the summer in Northern Ireland there are different rules on food and animal products. Find them here. 

You can bring the following products from Spain into the UK without worrying about any restrictions:

  • bread, but not sandwiches filled with meat or dairy products
  • cakes without fresh cream
  • biscuits
  • chocolate and confectionery, but not those made with unprocessed dairy ingredients
  • pasta and noodles, but not if mixed or filled with meat or meat products
  • packaged soup, stocks and flavourings
  • processed and packaged plant products, such as packaged salads and frozen plant material
  • food supplements containing small amounts of an animal product, such as fish oil capsules

Meat, dairy, fish and animal products

If, like many of us, you have friends and family already putting in their orders for stocks of jamón serrano, know that the rules on bringing meat, dairy, fish and other animal products into the UK are relatively relaxed. You can bring in meat, fish, dairy and other animal products as long as they’re from the EU, so your jamón and Manchego cheese are safe. 

what food can and cannot bring between spain and the uk

You will still be able to bring cured Spanish ham from Spain to the UK. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)
 

Alcohol allowance

For many, the big one, but there are some limits on how much booze you can bring in from Spain and the EU more generally. How much you can bring depends on the type of alcohol, so get up to speed on the limits and make sure your favourite Rioja and Cava aren’t taken off you or heavily taxed:

Limits:

  • beer – 42 litres
  • still wine – 18 litres
  • spirits and other liquors over 22 percent alcohol – 4 litres
  • sparkling wine, fortified wine (port, sherry etc) and other alcoholic drinks up to 22 percent alcohol (not including beer or still wine) – 9 litres

It’s worth knowing that you can split your allowance, for example you could bring 4.5 litres of fortified wine and 2 litres of spirits (both half of your allowance).

Flying into Spain from the UK

While British borders are laid back when it comes to travelling with food and drink, the rules are much tougher when entering the EU from the UK.

Most importantly, tea bags – longed for by Brits the world over – are allowed. Marmite, which is vegan, is also fine to bring but Bovril, which contains beef stock, is not.

Travellers arriving in the EU from Britain can, according to the European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC), bring the following quantities of alcohol, so if you fancy a British tipple in Spain over the summer such as Pimm’s it is possible, within reason: 4 litres of still wine and 16 litres of beer, 1 litre of spirits, or 2 litres of sparkling or fortified wine.

If you arrive in the EU from a non-EU country, you cannot bring any meat or dairy products with you. That means no Wensleydale, no Cornish Brie in your ploughman’s lunch and no British bacon to enjoy in Spain for English breakfast fry-ups.

Ploughman's lunch

British cheese for your Ploughman’s lunch is not allowed. Photo: Glammmur / WikiCommons

The EU’s strict rules mean that all imports of animal-derived products technically come under these rules, so even your custard powder to make rhubarb fool or bars of your favourite chocolate are now banned, because of the milk.

Be aware, however Spanish customs do not always check your suitcase, so you may be able to get away with bringing in a small packaged item such as a chocolate bar, without it being confiscated. 

Similarly, if you’re planning on asking a friend or family member to bring you over some sweets, cakes, or other home comforts, be aware that the ban includes all products that contain any meat or dairy as an ingredient – which includes items like chocolate, fudge, and some sweets (because of the gelatine.)

You are allowed to bring a small quantity of fruit and vegetables as well as eggs, some egg products, and honey. Restricted quantities of fish or fish products are also allowed: eviscerated fresh fish products (gutted, with all the organs removed), and processed fishery products are allowed up to 20 kg or 1 fish, so you can enjoy some Scottish smoked salmon in Spain over the summer if you want.

If you’re travelling with kids, note that powdered infant milk, infant food and specifically required medical foods are allowed up to 2kg, as is the case for pet foods. 

Clotted cream for cream teas won’t be allowed to be brought into Spain. Photo: Tuxraider reloaded / WikiCommons

This means that even the classic British summertime favourites such as sausage rolls, scotch eggs, packaged trifle and clotted cream for your cream tea will not be allowed because of the meat and dairy they contain.

It is worth noting that these strict EU rules also apply to sending products by post, so if you were hoping to get around the newly applicable legislation by having someone send you a delivery some Devon fudge, they will probably be intercepted and confiscated by Spain’s postal service, unfortunately. 

READ ALSO: Are there limits on bringing medicines into Spain?

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