martes, 21 de febrero de 2017

BREXIT AND UK NATIONALS IN SPAIN (5): HEALTHCARE

Caroline Abrahams of Age UK has said (BBC Jan 2017) that it was an "anxious time" for retired expats: "We know that reciprocal healthcare arrangements are a vital safety net and people are likely to have made the decision to live overseas based on their existence. Without that safety net many may feel they have no choice but to return." This could directly affect the more than 100,000 UK pensioners living in Spain.

Reciprocal health agreements are in place between all of the countries of the European Economic Area (EU + Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein). This means that anybody possessing a European Health Insurance Card can get medical treatment free or at reduced cost in a European country that is not their own. This affects temporary visitors and tourists, but also covers pensioners actually resident in another country (and who have not paid into the system). There is a large discrepancy between the number of UK pensioners in Europe and the number of EEA pensioners in the UK, as Britain is not a country of choice for retirement. There are 145,000 UK pensioners in EEA countries and 4,000 EEA pensioners in the UK (BBC Jan 2017). The UK pays other countries 773 million pounds and receives 51 million.

If the UK leaves the EEA, these arrangements will have to be renegotiated. This should not affect UK nationals who have paid national insurance in their European country of residence throughout their working lives. But it could mean that thousands of UK pensioners will have to return home if their healthcare is not fully covered.

Here are some of the concerns of UK nationals in Spain: 

Public healthcare:
Will the current healthcare arrangements for UK citizens in Spain remain in force, after Brexit?
Will the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) still be valid for British citizens resident in Spain when visiting the UK?
 

Private health insurance:
If, on the contrary, UK residents in Spain lose their right to healthcare from the Spanish health services, I may be forced to take out private medical insurance but:
- Will I be able to afford it?
- Will I be able to find an insurance company willing to take me on at my age or in my state of health? 

- Could I ever find myself in a position in which no government accepts responsibility for my care, even though I may have contributed to the health system of the “wrong” country all through my working life?

2 comentarios:

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