How the Health Tourism Crackdown Affects British Expats
Posted by Dannielle Noonan
Bad news for Brits living abroad
A crack down on ‘health tourists’ coming to Britain to take advantage of the NHS also signals bad news for Britons living overseas – and they might not even be aware that the new rules affect them.
British expats will no longer receive NHS funded treatment on return to their home country. In fact, they will have to wait six months after repatriation until they can take advantage of free healthcare again.
The new rules may lead to all patients being asked for proof of residence, such as a passport or electricity bill in order to determine that they are entitled to treatment on the NHS. However, this means that people from the UK who live abroad or spend more than three months outside the EU - in countries such as Canada, America or Australia - will find they become ineligible for free treatment upon return to the United Kingdom.
Those who come to Britain from outside Europe could be charged 150 per cent of the cost of treatment under the new rules.
No matter how much British expats have paid in tax and National Insurance over the years, they will now have to pay for NHS care when they come back to Britain.
The rules about NHS funded treatment for non UK residents were brought into effect on 6th April, and expatriate Britons should take steps to protect themselves.
How can British expats get cover for their return to the UK?
Whether you will be returning to the UK for a few days or are considering permanent repatriation, Medibroker advises that Brits living overseas ensure you have an international health plan to avoid being denied treatment or facing huge medical bills during your first six months back in the UK.
Purchasing international health cover rather than a local plan for your stay abroad is the only way to ensure you will be covered wherever you are. You can read more about the benefits of international health insurance here.
Local cover won’t protect you in the UK – and neither will the NHS.
If you only have local cover for your life abroad, and a medical issue arises and you want to return home for treatment, you cannot claim on your local plan for any medical attention you receive in the UK. This is because a local health insurance plan is limited to the country in which you purchased the plan. Once you leave the country, you are no longer covered by your local plan.
Until now, this wasn’t an issue for expats returning to the UK because they could rely on the NHS for free medical attention or treatment. This is no longer the case.
What are the benefits of an international health insurance plan?
An international plan, unlike local cover in your expat country, gives you access to private treatment in the UK and elsewhere – because with worldwide health cover, your insurance goes wherever you do.
Now is the time to make sure you have health cover that protects you wherever you are in the world. As a trusted broker with access to 100s of plans, we search the market based on your specific requirements and find a health insurance plan tailored to you.
Our service is completely free of charge, 100% impartial and our Price Promise guarantees that you will never spend less by going to a broker direct.
Need more reasons to let Medibroker International do the hard work for you? Read our happy customer reviews!
If you have expat friends who may be affected by the changes to NHS rules 'back home, don't forget to share this article with them. You may help someone!