The word Brexit has become, for many expats, a cause of much fear and uncertainty. With the word dominating the headlines in recent months, countless expats are on the edge of their seat awaiting news that will provide some clarity as to how their life abroad is likely to be impacted.
One of the biggest concerns has been for expats state pensioners who would be hugely affected by some of the claims being expressed in the media. It’s been a worrying time, with very little in the way of firm answers and decisions.
However, as Brexit day looms, it does appear that some progress is being made, with the promising recent announcement of the proposed Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill. The main aim of which is to protect UK nationals’ access to free healthcare abroad, post-Brexit.
The new proposed law would enable the UK government to have the authority to fund and implement reciprocal healthcare arrangements after the UK leaves the EU. Through agreements with the EU or member states, the Bill has the potential to safeguard healthcare for some 190,000 expats.
The main area of focus would be allowing the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme to remain in effect after 2020. This scheme currently permits UK nationals to access free healthcare abroad.
Since the 2016 EU referendum, British expats and those in retirement have experienced much worry and stress with the idea of potentially losing their healthcare provision. And rightly so. Without the scheme in place, many expats living in the EU would be forced to take out private health insurance and as most expats would likely not have budgeted for such an expense, the possibility of being forced to return to the UK has been a very real concern.
After all, as British citizens, we become accustomed to high-quality healthcare and being able to continue to access this within the EU is important. Thankfully, it would appear the British government is, at least in this case, listening to the needs of expats and are taking the necessary action to protect their ongoing access to healthcare.
This news should bring much relief to state pensioners living in the EU and those intending to retire within the EU. Let’s hope this is the first of many positive steps to support the needs of British expats, many of whom just want to continue to enjoy their well-earned retirement in peace.