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Spain's UK expats to lose free NHS health care

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Spain's UK expats to lose free NHS health care
The changes won't affect UK expats over the age of 65 nor those seeking emergency care through the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Photo: Angelica Warmut/DPA/AFP
12:52 CET+01:00
Thousands of British expats who have taken early retirement in Spain will now have to get private health insurance following the UK government's decision to scrap free access to their local Spanish health care system.

The change in legislation, set to be implemented on April 1st, will affect only those who haven’t already completed a Social Security residual form S1 before leaving the UK.

However, once their current form comes to an end, jobless UK expats in Spain are likely to also be obliged to buy private medical insurance.

Up to now, unemployed Brits in Spain and other EEA countries who were under the age of 65 were able to pass on their health care costs to the UK Treasury.

This was determined by whether they had contributed to the UK’s National Insurance system for at least three years and completed the residual S1 form.

"No other European state offers an equivalent to the residual S1 and the reasons for the UK doing so in the past probably arise because the NHS is different to continental systems," a Department of Health spokesperson told The UK’s Telegraph.

The change, one of a series of cost-saving plans under review by the NHS, means the UK will no longer have to reimburse other European countries for health costs of Brits without a job and under pensionable age.

The legislation also represents a crackdown on ineligible health care claimants, who according to official sources could cost the British taxpayer as much as £2 billion (€2.4 billion) a year.

The changes won’t affect UK expats over the age of 65 nor those seeking emergency care through the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

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