LONDON – Britons visiting the EU and vice versa who need routine medical treatment such as dialysis can seek continued access to overseas healthcare even if the two sides fail to reach an agreement on their future relationship.
In a deal announced on Thursday, Britain and the EU have agreed a temporary, time-limited deal for patients who need regular treatment for chronic conditions. It is intended to prevent the interruption of treatments such as oxygen therapy or chemotherapy.
The agreement, covering the European Economic Area and Switzerland, will last for one year, covering travel between January 1 and December 31, 2021.
As it stands, from 1 January reciprocal healthcare is limited to: UK pensioners already living in the EU; those who are already working in another EU country; students; and any dependents of these groups.
Patient groups including Kidney Care UK have campaigned for years for reciprocal agreements covering chronic conditions – arguing that without this patients cannot travel to Europe because insurance companies do not cover their needs.
“The government recognizes that these routine treatment costs can be costly and make overseas travel extremely difficult for many people,” UK Health Minister Edward Argar said in a written statement.
Argar said the one-year program will be implemented on the UK side by the NHS Business Services Authority, a body under the Department of Health and Social Care.
People will need to contact their doctor to confirm that they meet the criteria for the diet. Further details about the program, including its application process and criteria, will be released shortly, Argar said.
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