Lords report: Brits’ reciprocal healthcare rights in EU may ‘cease after Brexit’

The right of millions of British citizens to continue to obtain urgent medical treatment while living and travelling in the EU is currently in question, a new report published today by a House of Lords committee warns.

Although a ‘Joint Report’ published in December by the UK and EU Brexit negotiators “went some way to guaranteeing reciprocal healthcare entitlements”, the Lords EU Committee’s 57-page report, out today, notes, “until it is made legally binding there will be a question mark over access to reciprocal healthcare for the people covered by the agreement”.

What’s more, “the Joint Report contains two significant omissions…It does not cover the right of UK citizens resident in the EU at the time of Brexit to move between EU-member states,” the report continues. “Nor does it cover the position of EU27 citizens resident in the UK on Exit Day, who subsequently leave the UK and then return.

“Nor does the Joint Report say anything about whether and how the reciprocal healthcare entitlements of those people who fall outside its scope will be protected post-Brexit.”

“In the absence of an agreement on future relations, the rights to reciprocal healthcare currently enjoyed by 27 million UK citizens, thanks to the European Health Insurance Card, will cease after Brexit.

“We therefore call on the Government to seek to add to the Withdrawal Agreement provision for onward free movement rights, including the right to healthcare provision for UK citizens on the same terms as are enjoyed by EU citizens, and vice versa.”

Wide support for continuing EHIC regime

Throughout the Brexit process, British ministers have consistently said they wished to see the current reciprocal healthcare system, whereby British citizens are able to access healthcare throughout the EU by using a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), pictured above, continue, even after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

Currently there’s an agreed 19-month transition deal in place, whereby the UK will effectively remain in the bloc until 31 December 2021.

To read and download the House of Lords report, click here. 

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