State pension warning as Brexit means some Britons face NHS charges

NHS explain what a Prescription Prepayment Certificate is

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State Pension payments are issued to people right across the country, as well as those who have retired overseas. The payments are particularly important in later life and can form a key source of income. Each year, thousands of people decide to retire abroad, perhaps in search of sunnier climes or a different environment for later life.

However, expats should be aware of an important rule change which may affect their entitlement to free NHS care.

Under newer rules, UK citizens who have moved to the EU since December 31, 2020 will not be able to get NHS healthcare when they come back to the UK on visits.

Now the UK is out of the European Union, there is no NHS cover in the UK and no ability to get coverage.

This is due to the NHS having a residence-based qualification system.  

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state pension NHS

State pension warning as Brexit means some Britons face NHS charges (Image: Getty)

The Government website even states: “Those who are not ordinarily resident in the UK, including former UK residents, are overseas visitors and may be charged for NHS services.”

The important date to bear in mind is December 31, 2020 – which means those who have lived overseas before this date may be entitled to free NHS hospital treatment in England, should they return temporarily to the UK.

The Government website goes on to explain that UK national who moved to the EU on or after January 1, 2021 should not expect to use NHS services for free when visiting the UK.

They could, however, be able to gain free NHS services if they present a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC), or S2 form.


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This documentation shows healthcare costs are funded by the EU country where they reside, or that another exemption is applicable.

Any treatment that a person may have to pay for will be charged at 150 percent of the national NHS rate. 

Jason Porter, director of specialist expats financial advisers, Blevin Franks, commented on the matter.

He said: “Treatment on a return to the UK was specifically exempted when the UK was a member of the EU.

state pension UK

State Pension UK: What is State Pension? (Image: EXPRESS)

“But now, for new arrivals there is no NHS coverage and no ability to get coverage without paying for it.

“It will therefore be necessary to buy travel insurance which includes health cover for visits back to the UK.”

Mr Porter highlighted charges will also apply to Britons living in an EU country before 2021 who will be eligible for a British state pension in future. 

The Government advises visitors to the UK to take out the necessary healthcare coverage via insurance which can cover their needs.

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This is particularly important, it states, for those who have pre-existing healthcare conditions. 

People who live, or have retired, outside the European Union are also not entitled to free NHS care.

They can also expect a charge at 150 percent of the NHS national tariff, unless a particular exemption applies to them.

However, if a person chooses to return to the UK permanently, then their entitlement will change.

The Government has confirmed these individuals will be considered as ordinarily resident and therefore eligible for free NHS care immediately.

Harry Byrne

Harry Byrne

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