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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Brexit to hit health cover

The Guardian reports that amongst the many things that will be lost as a result of Brexit is access to free health insurance for Britons living or travelling within the European Union.

The paper draws our attention to a Parliamentary Health Select Committee report which urges the government to offer more guarantees for Britons visiting the continent after hearing evidence that without the right to receive treatment in countries that are part of the European Economic Area, people with cancer could find it too expensive to go to Europe:

In a strongly worded report on the effect of Brexit on health and social care, the committee said the challenges created by losing reciprocal health arrangements should not be underestimated.

British travellers can currently use the European health insurance card (Ehic), which guarantees access to healthcare free or at a reduced cost in Europe. The EU member state providing treatment is able to claim back costs from the patient’s home country. Some estimates suggest that up to 27 million Britons have cards.

The inquiry heard evidence that losing this agreement could create challenges for many travellers, including disabled people and those with mental or physical health conditions. Prof Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said a week’s full private health insurance for a holiday in France for someone with a condition such as diabetes or mild depression would cost between £800 and £2,500.

The report also noted that hundreds of thousands of expats living abroad could lose reciprocal healthcare rights, leaving some facing hardship. McKee, a professor of European public health, said many Britons in Spain have properties that are now worth little. “Many will come back in a state of poverty because they bought properties in Andalucía and other places ... They will be throwing themselves on the mercy of the state when they come back,” he said.

It is funny how the Brexiteers never mentioned any of this during the referendum.
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