State pension alert: Certain Britons may need to pay for NHS treatments – will you?
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The state pension provides financial support once a person reaches a certain age, which is currently set at 66. It is at this point many will choose to leave the workforce to pursue later life goals, and this could mean retiring abroad. Millions of Britons currently live abroad, with some migrating earlier in life, while others choose to spend their retirement in a different country.
However, once the big decision is made, individuals should be aware of the potential implications when it comes to their healthcare.
As a result of Brexit, an important rule change has taken place recently which may impact the ability to receive free NHS treatment.
Citizens who have moved to the European Union since December 31, 2020 will not be able to receive free NHS healthcare if returning to the UK on visits.
The NHS explains the rules apply to those who are moving abroad on a permanent basis.
Expats will not be automatically entitled to medical treatment under normal NHS rules, because the health service is a residence-based healthcare system.
People who are not “ordinarily resident” in the UK will be classed as overseas visitors for healthcare purposes.
There could, therefore, be charges which have to be met if a person visits the UK and needs to use the NHS.
Those who choose to retire abroad will need to notify their GP practice so they can be removed from the NHS register.
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It is worth acknowledging, however, there may be certain circumstances where a person might be entitled to healthcare paid for by the UK, with the NHS providing guidance to state pensioners.
Some individuals in receipt of a state pension or some UK benefits may be eligible for support.
But this only applies within the European Union and in Switzerland, so those moving elsewhere will not be entitled.
If people do move to an EU country or Switzerland and are receiving a UK state pension, they will need to take action.
Individuals must apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 form which shows their state healthcare is paid for by the UK.
However, the NHS explains: “If you receive both a pension from the country you now live in and your UK State Pension, you cannot get an S1 form.
“This is because the country you live in will be responsible for your healthcare.”
If a person finds they are not eligible to receive support with their healthcare, they may wish to factor this into their retirement plans.
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In certain cases private medical insurance may be the best course of action to cover NHS costs upon visits to the UK.
If a person does not acquire this insurance, they may have to meet a charge of 150 percent of the national NHS rate for treatments.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson previously told Express.co.uk: “The NHS is free at the point of use for UK residents.
“Visitors will be entitled to accident and emergency support and urgent services that they need.
“Visitors who require secondary care are required to cover the costs of this – unless they are exempt – and we recommend they ensure they are covered through personal medical or travel insurance before coming to the UK.”
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