You may have seen the UK Government’s announcement dated 23 September about healthcare arrangements after a No Deal Brexit. If you are an S1 holder you will also shortly be getting a letter from the NHS.
Briefly the latest announcement is that, if there is a No Deal Brexit, the UK will pay for healthcare for UK nationals resident in the EU who hold the S1 form (UK pensioners, those in receipt of UK long-term disability benefits and posted workers) for 6 months from Brexit. The UK will also pay the healthcare costs of UK nationals who are students who began a course in the EU before 31st October for the duration of their course.
In addition, as the Government announced last March, the UK is committed to funding for a maximum of a year from the date of Brexit the treatment of S1 holders who had started or applied for treatment before Brexit. This commitment still stands.
The latest announcement has caused a lot of anger among British citizens across Europe because of the inadequacy of the arrangements to replace a system which, when those of us who are pensioners or disabled moved to our present homes, had guaranteed us free healthcare for life. Both British in Europe and British in Italy are making this anger very clear to the UK Government and lobbying for improvements.
But even at a purely practical level, the announcement raises as many questions as it answers. The letter you will be receiving says, “You should not delay taking action to put in place arrangements for your healthcare.” And the announcement says, “All UK nationals in the EU should act now and take the simple steps needed to secure their access to healthcare.” What this means in Italy is entirely unclear, as all S1 holders are already registered with their local ASL. You are then referred to the British Embassy website, but there is nothing there yet to tell you what to do in the light of this announcement.
British in Italy has today written urgently both to the Italian government and to the British Embassy in Rome pressing for a clear statement on what steps, if any, we need to take now and in the immediate aftermath of Brexit. We should add that we have been asking the Italian government for information on any necessary administrative steps (and not just on healthcare) for months now, but with less than 6 weeks to go to a possible Brexit, the need for an answer is more pressing than ever.
We are continuing to work hard to try and get the maximum peace of mind for you and others post Brexit.