British expats in EU countries facing ‘headache’ over being slapped with huge NHS bills

Boris Johnson 'needs to step up for British expats' says expert

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The charges are set to affect Britons who moved to countries that are part of the European Union after the Brexit transition period ended on December 31, 2020. The new rules will mean those visiting the UK will be charged 150 percent of the cost of any NHS treatment. This will apply even if they are British nationals.

Chetal Patel, of law firm Bates Well, warned that even if people own a property in the UK or still pay tax while living abroad will still have to pay for treatment.

She said: “That’s a common misconception, and people may not realise the repercussions.

“Many British expats may simply have not known that this was another hurdle to climb.

“This could cause a headache to expats as they try to navigate the issues.”

Jason Porter of Blevins Franks, a financial planner, added British pensioners may be most at risk of the new rules.

Even if they receive a state pension, they will still not be covered.

It comes after about 460,000 British pensioners are believed to be living in the EU and are deemed to be the age category that is likely to need NHS services the most.

Mr Porter told the Telegraph: “Someone in their 70s who started working from age 16 all the way to 65 in the UK would expect to be able to receive healthcare when they return.

“Britons wouldn’t think when they come back that they would need insurance.”

The new rules are now similar to those in other countries outside the bloc, such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

However, each country’s healthcare system is different, so it is best to check individual rules.

The Government website states that UK nationals who moved to the EU on or after January 1, 2021, should not expect to use NHS services for free when visiting the UK.

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Instead, they could be able to gain free NHS services if they present a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC), or S2 form.

This documentation will show healthcare costs are funded by the EU country where they reside, or that another exemption is applicable.

The Government website said: “Those who are not ordinarily resident in the UK, including former UK residents, are overseas visitors and may be charged for NHS services.”

The Government also advises visitors to the UK to take out healthcare insurance, which can cover their needs.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “The NHS is free at the point of use for UK residents.

“Visitors will be entitled to accident and emergency support and urgent services that they need.

“Visitors who require secondary care are required to cover the costs of this – unless they are exempt – and we recommend they ensure they are covered through personal medical or travel insurance before coming to the UK.”

Meanwhile, British expats have also been facing chaos abroad recently as travel rules in and out of the UK have repeatedly changed due to the Covid pandemic.

Last week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced this week that British travellers returning to the UK from an “amber country”, such as Spain, will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated from July 19.

However, the new rules will only apply to those who have been double-jabbed in the UK, which sparked fury among people who had received both vaccinations abroad.

Mr Shapps said: “From Jul 19, UK residents who are fully vaccinated will no longer have to self isolate when they return to England.”

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