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What Brexit will mean for expats and healthcare policies

Uncertainty ‘makes it difficult for UK retirees to plan for provisions’


Brexit is very close to happening. Boris Johnson has been adamant since his first day as UK prime minister that he will pull the country out of the EU without a deal.

This has left many people worried and uncertain about what to do.

International Adviser recently reported on a Canada Life survey which found nearly half (46%) of potential expats were reconsidering plans to leave the UK.

Fears have been raised on issues such as tax, property and pensions.

But another factor is healthcare. What does Brexit mean for expats and healthcare? Will a deal make a difference?

Jason Porter, business development director at Blevins Franks, told IA: “Brexit uncertainty makes it difficult for UK retirees to plan for healthcare provision, and the cost of private healthcare can be prohibitive, particularly where the individual is at retirement age, and has no track history with the cover provider.

“In terms of healthcare, it is relatively easy for UK nationals looking at retiring to the EU, to estimate what the position might be under a deal or no-deal scenario, if the current, proposed deal is the best case, and the position of other ‘third-state’ (ie. outside the EU) countries, is the worst case scenario.”

Determined at national level

Fears may be there but there are some common misconceptions about healthcare for those already with policies after Brexit.

James Pearcy-Caldwell , co-founder of financial planning firm Aisa International which includes the OpesFidelio network, told IA: “Brexit does not invalidate insurance policies in existence. Brexit means we are no longer part of passporting rules. Insurance and the taxation of health insurance has always been determined at a national level.

“All Brexit does is make health companies in Britain treat the residents of the EU like it currently treats citizens living outside the EU.

“It may mean their polices cannot be marketed in the EU anymore by people with feet on the ground, but it does not prevent internet marketing any more than internet marketing is currently banned (it is not) in most of the rest of the world.

“The actual determining factor is do the insurance companies want to take on risk of individuals living in other countries. Time will tell.”


Blevins Franks’ Porter also discussed the different types of provisions already set between the UK and EU, and where there may be some concerns due to the lack of provisions in certain areas.

“Qualification for subsidised healthcare in Europe varies from one state to another,” said Porter. “For instance, in Portugal you are only required to have attained legal residency (having a residency permit) in the country, whilst in France there are various financial criteria to be met.

“The deal agreed between the UK and EU negotiators would maintain the current healthcare position for UK nationals who are legally resident in the EU before the end of a transitional period.

“There is currently no provision within the agreement for those arriving in the EU after the expiry of the transitional period.

“The fact there is currently no healthcare provision within the UK-EU agreement for those UK nationals arriving in the EU after the expiry of the transitional period should not be a huge concern.

“The aim would be to negotiate citizen rights, healthcare and state pension provisions for post-Brexit during the transitional period in-depth discussions.

“While it is welcome to see the majority of EU states introducing legislation to deal with a hard Brexit scenario for the UK, in all cases this legislation expects the UK to return the favour with reciprocity, and at this point in time the UK has not tabled legislation along these lines.”

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