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With premiums for essential medical cover in Australia constantly increasing, many British expat retirees are having to return home as they no longer afford the high living costs of the country.
Expat Tony Whalley and his wife Maggie retired to Australia, but are planning on relocating back to the UK due to witnessing their annual insurance premium rise by 123% since they arrived in Albany, Western Australia, in 2006.
Despite cherishing life in Australia, the Whalleys simply cannot afford to stay and will face an imminent move back to the UK.
Mr Whalley comments: “The reason we are vulnerable is we have to prove we have paid our premiums when we next apply for a new visa. The insurance company tells me that a huge number of Brits have already returned the UK because of the costs here.”
Mr Whalley stated that the issue is due to the fact that the British state pension as paid to expats in Australia is frozen at the rate it was when the couple left the UK, rather than increasing in line with inflation.
The 78-year-old, who previously lived in Singapore but is originally from Southport in Merseyside, and worked in the textile industry before retirement, has held a temporary residency visa since moving to Australia. His current one expires in 2022. Unlike those with permanent residency, temporary residents in Australia do not get access to Medicare, the publically funded national healthcare scheme, which covers most costs.
“We are very happy here and don’t want to move but ever increasing services, costs and insurance mean our frozen state pension plus a private pension I have don’t cover everything. Each month we have to dip into savings,” said Mr Whalley.
Co-ordinator for British Pensioners in Australia, Mike Goodall, is very aware that other Brits are in the same sad scenario. He comments, “I think the majority of the expats who are returning to the UK are those who are on temporary retirement visas, and the ones most seriously affected are those on a subclass 410 retirement visa with an average age of 75. What a time of life to be having to move halfway round the world.”
According to Mr Goodall there are upwards of 3,000 temporary visa holders in Australia. He has been campaigning relentlessly with the help of his federal MP to allow them to become permanent residents, giving them access to Medicare.
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