British expats are still confused and worried about their post-Brexit healthcare and pension provision, which has prompted a boost in private medical insurance.
According to specialist intermediary for Life and Health Insurance Assured Futures, there was surge in enquiries during the last UK general election which took place between 12th December to 14th December 2019. With such a significant rise in searches for PMI, the firm expects a similar surge in enquiries as the UK leaves Europe.
Much of the confusion has arisen because of announcements last year about the rules that would apply in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The signing of the withdrawal agreement, a legally binding international treaty, means these are no longer valid.
"One can only assume that the ‘Project Fear' narrative dominating a large proportion of media outlets - suggesting that the NHS would be sold off following a Conservative win - was the reason for the sharp spike," Assured Futures commercial director Ian Sawyer said.
Around 4 million people in the UK have private medical insurance, which is less than 10% of the population. A typical PMI policy for a healthy 35-year-old costs about £650 a year, but this rises steeply to £2,300 for those aged 70, when claims are far more likely.
Under the withdrawal agreement, at the end of the transition period in December 2020, anyone with an existing British S1 reciprocal healthcare form will continue to have their healthcare costs met by the government, as long as they remain legally resident in their host country.
An S1 form will also entitle the holder to a UK European health insurance card for treatment when travelling within the EU. Pensioners living on the continent will also continue to be entitled, under UK law, to free treatment in the UK.
Any British nationals working in their host country and paying into its social security system will continue to be covered for healthcare. The withdrawal agreement also states that British state pensions - and all other benefits paid to non-residents - will be uprated annually during the recipient's lifetime.