No-deal Brexit: Brits in Germany warned over healthcare restrictions when visiting UK
British people living in Germany may no longer qualify for treatment on the NHS (National Health Service) if they fall ill or have an accident while visiting the UK if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.
Naturally, British people who have settled in Germany will usually use the German healthcare system for most things.
But what happens if you fall ill while visiting friends or relatives back in the UK or you need treatment for an existing condition?
Up until now treatment on the NHS for Brits visiting the UK has been covered by European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC).
If Britain leaves with a deal, then current rights on health cover, including the use of the European Health Insurance Cards will continue until the end of the transition period. What happens to the EHIC in the future will be decided as part of the negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship.
But under a no-deal Brexit?
The British government recently updated its advice which says that in the case of a no-deal Brexit: "You should not expect to be able to use NHS services for free when visiting the UK if you are living in Germany and are not currently eligible for a UK-issued S1 form (which covers British pensioners) or (a UK-issued) EHI."
If there's a no-deal, the British government says that pensioners in Germany covered by the S1 system – which the British government is paying for – will be entitled to use the NHS for free when they are visiting the UK.
But British people who are registered in the German health system and rely on their EHIC card when they return to the UK will not be protected.
Students in Germany, who until now have generally relied on the EHIC card (Europäische Krankenversicherungskarte) are also being warned that this will cease to operate after Brexit if there is no agreement.
Hence the warning to take out travel insurance if you are heading "home".
The UK government says: "You should take out appropriate travel insurance when visiting the UK, as you would when visiting any other country.
"If you return to the UK permanently and meet the ordinarily resident test you will be able to access NHS care without charge."
Concerns for Britons with healthcare issues
The move has raised concerns for Brits in Germany with pre-existing health conditions who would likely face costly insurance cover when travelling back to the UK.
Citizens advice groups across Europe have already been warning about changes to healthcare in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
Matt Bristow of British in Germany recently told The Local: “The German government has been incredibly supportive but there are issues - for example pensioners who have to suddenly pay for healthcare when they haven't been doing so already because they've been covered by the UK system – that could put people in huge financial difficulty.”
After Brexit it is widely expected that Britain will come to a bilateral agreements with countries like Germany, France and Spain, where many British people live, but this would need to be agreed between the two countries after Brexit day.
There is also confusion over whether old reciprocal agreements between states would automatically come into force in the event of a no-deal or whether they would be subject to new agreement between the UK and EU member states.