Healthcare worries main concern of British expats in EU countries

by Ray Clancy on January 23, 2017

Expats from around Europe have explained to a British parliamentary group their fears surrounding the decision by the country to leave the European Union, especially over healthcare.

The representatives of expat groups in Spain, France, Belgium, Italy, Poland and Romania, voiced their concerns at a meeting last week of the House of Commons Brexit Select Committee.

healthcareEUPensioners are particularly concerned, according to Sue Wilson, one of the founders of the Remain in Spain group, who pointed out that they are already suffering in terms of income since the Pound has fallen since the Brexit vote last June.

She also explained that currently British people receiving a UK pension use an S1 form provided by the Government that they can use to register for subsidised care from their local health authority and are worried about what will happen in the future as many cannot afford the full cost.

Wilson said it is a myth that the 100,000 British pensioners living in Spain are living the good life. ‘We have got to get away from this perception that they are all there having a good time. Many moved to Spain in the first place because it was cheaper to live there, because it was cheaper to buy a property,’ she said.

‘A big concern is people wondering if they have free healthcare in future, particularly if you are elderly. If your only alternative was private, for most that would be the difference between staying in Spain and leaving,’ she explained, adding that if pensioners are ‘forced’ to return as they can no longer afford to live in Spain they could be a drain on the NHS and perhaps the housing market.

The Britons in Belgium group also said that healthcare costs are a major issue for expats. Spokesman Debbie Williams told the committee that there could be hundreds of thousands of people returning to the UK over healthcare issues.

Christopher Chantrey, a Briton living in France representing the Expat Citizen Rights in EU (Ecreu) group, said expats would welcome an early deal that would guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK and vice versa.

The committee also heard from representatives of EU expats living in the UK. According to Barbara Drozdowicz, chief executive of the East European Resource Centre, people from countries like Poland and Romania moved to Britain to set up business not to sponge off the state and they are worried about whether or not they can stay after Brexit.

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