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British tourists could lose medical cover in the EU

Eleanor Newis
Feb 11, 2019



British tourists who are travelling to Europe might be left without medical cover on their holidays if there is a no-deal Brexit, according to admissions from health ministers.

The UK Government has been put under pressure from Liberal Democrats to be honest about their failure to secure bilateral agreements on healthcare with EU member states. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal many British travellers could be affected.

The Brexit spokesperson for the Lib Dems, Tom Brake, wrote to the UK health minister Stephen Hammond about the issue. He asked if any agreements could be confirmed that would make sure British citizens would have medical care whilst in EU countries.

Hammond’s response could only say that the Government has ‘firm intentions to maintain the Common Travel Area and to protect the associated reciprocal rights.’

Brake then spoke to the Huffington Post, saying: ‘In a no-deal scenario, it is now disturbingly likely that UK citizens will have no medical cover in most, if not all, of the EU countries.

‘With many people already having booked travel to the EU after 29th March, we need urgent clarification from the Government of what action UK travellers need to take, including whether they should be taking out expensive travel insurance.

‘This is particularly worrying as most of the large travel insurance firms are not able to confirm whether their insurance will be valid in the case of a no-deal.’

At present, British tourists can apply for a European Health Insurance Card, and the gives them the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another EU country — as well as Switzerland.

However, the NHS website is now warning that this could change after 29th March. This will add further worries to travellers trying to plan their trips — recently, several leading travel insurance firms were found to be unable to guarantee cover if Brexit causes disruption to journeys.

Hammond maintained in his letter to Brake that ‘no one faces sudden changes to how they obtain healthcare.’ He continued by saying ’[t]he UK has approached and is in ongoing discussions with other member states about protecting access to healthcare bilaterally, through reciprocal arrangements.’

If you’re planning a trip to the EU after the 29th March, now is the time you should be shopping around for travel insurance. Use a price comparison site like A Spokesman Said to find the best deals. Make sure that you look at all the policies on offer and the terms and conditions of each one, as they might cover different things.

As travel insurance in the EU becomes more and more uncertain, it’s essential that you find the right provider to keep you safe on your trip.

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