Check your rights: Brexit rule change deprives expats of free NHS care


A post-Brexit rule change means that British nationals who moved to the European Union after December 31, 2020 will no longer be able to receive free NHS healthcare when they travel to the UK.

Under the NHS residence-based qualification system, UK citizens who live abroad are considered overseas visitors.

Eligible for NHS care
People who live or work in a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland will still be entitled to free NHS care if they already have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Similarly, state pensioners already registered for overseas healthcare with an S1 form have the same rights to NHS healthcare as those living in England.

“It is important to note that those who left UK soil to become EU residents before December 31, 2020 are still entitled to NHS healthcare and will not be affected,” said Gavin Pluck, director of the Blacktower. Financial Management Group.

Not eligible
The rule change affects Britons already living outside the EEA, those who have moved overseas since January 1, 2021 and those who moved before 2021 but will be eligible for a state pension and Form S1 in the future.

For these, “it is now – more than ever – important to stress how crucial it is to have travel insurance which covers UK health costs”, Pluck advised.

Anyone without insurance will be charged 150% of the national NHS rate for all care they receive.

The policy was introduced to deter so-called healthcare tourism several years ago, but treatment on return to the UK was specifically exempt when the UK was a member of the EU.


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