UK citizens rights to healthcare in EU cease after Brexit.

London

In the absence of an agreement on reciprocal healthcare, the rights of UK citizens to hold an EHIC card for treatment in the EU will cease after Brexit - so says the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee in a report published today.

Background

Reciprocal healthcare arrangementssupport the free movement of people by eliminating the financial or bureaucratic barriers that millions of citizens, whether UK nationals resident in the EU or those from the EU resident in Britain, would otherwise face in accessing treatment.  They play a vital role in allowing people with:disabilities or long-term health conditions; the elderly; and children with healthcare needs - to travel abroad and avoid prohibitively expensive insurance costs.

Report Findings and Recommendations

Around half of UK citizens (27 million) have applied for and hold a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

The Government has not yet, March 2018, set out its objectives for the future UK-EU relationship for UK citizens visiting the EU.

EU citizens lawfully resident in the UK should be provided with a practical means by which to exercise their rights – and the Committee calls on the Government to use domestic legislation to clarify the means by which all EU citizens lawfully resident in the UK at the time of Brexit will be able to continue to access essential healthcare.

The Committee noted the importance of maintaining freedom of movement under the Common Travel Area and cooperation under the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, adding that regardless of the other arguments against a hard border, any such barrier would be highly detrimental to healthcare for patients on both sides of the border, including children and other vulnerable patients.

Chair of the Committee, Lord Jay of Ewelme, said that: "We urge the Government to clarify whether it will seek UK participation in the EHIC, and other schemes: as a non-EU Member State; set up a separate scheme with the EU27; or explore the possibility of reaching bilateral arrangements with individual Member States.”

“Clarity from the Government will enable UK and EU citizens, the NHS, and insurance providers, to plan for the post-Brexit future."

John ShuttleworthComment