The House of Lords EU Committee has today published its report Brexit: reciprocal healthcare. The Committee warns that in the absence of an agreement on reciprocal healthcare, the rights of UK citizens to hold an EHIC card for treatment in the EU will cease after Brexit.
Other rights, provided for by the S2 scheme and Patients’ Rights Directive, will likewise come to an end. Without EHIC or an equivalent arrangement it could become much more expensive for UK citizens with chronic conditions – such as dialysis patients and people living with rare diseases – to travel to the EU post-Brexit, for holidays, recuperation or treatment. These people might find it difficult to obtain travel insurance at all.
The Government wishes to maintain reciprocal healthcare arrangements including the EHIC scheme after Brexit, but the current arrangements are designed to support the freedom of movement of EU citizens. The Government intends to stop freedom of movement to the UK, and has not yet set out its objectives for the future UK-EU relationship. The Committee therefore urges the Government to confirm how it will seek to protect reciprocal rights to healthcare of all UK and EU citizens post-Brexit, as part of any agreement on future relations.
The report also argues that it is essential for EU citizens lawfully resident in the UK to have a continuing right to access long-term healthcare, as well as the practical means by which to exercise that right. The Committee therefore calls on the Government to use domestic legislation to clarify the means by which all EU citizens lawfully resident in the UK at the time of Brexit will be able to continue to access essential healthcare.