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Health Services: Reciprocal Arrangements

Volume 496: debated on Thursday 16 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer to Lord Laird of 1 June 2009, Official Report, House of Lords, column WA31, on health: former UK residents, what methodology was used to calculate the UK average cost for pensioners and their dependants; and what information his Department has received from the government of the Republic of Ireland on the calculation of its average cost. (283879)

The United Kingdom's average cost for pensioners and their dependents, is based upon the number of these people living in the UK (using Office for National Statistics data for the relevant year) and the expenditure that relates to national health service health care provided to them (using information from departmental and NHS accounts). The Department does not have access to the full methodology used by the Republic of Ireland for calculating its average costs, as under European Union rules there is no obligation on one member state to share this with another.

EU regulation 1408/71 covers how citizens visiting, working and retired in other EEA (European economic area) member states access health care.

Under these regulations, member states bill each other back for health care provided to pensioners and their dependents, on the basis of an average cost. Each member state calculates its own average costs, taking into account the overall amount they spend on their health care system and the size and profile of their population.

Member states have their average costs scrutinised and agreed by an EU-level group of which the UK is a member.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer to Lord Laird of 1 June 2009, Official Report, House of Lords, column WA32, on health: former UK residents, for what reasons the UK has not made claims against other EU member states in relation to overseas visitors treated by the devolved health authorities; and what estimate he has made of the cost of treatment provided by devolved health authorities in respect of which the UK has not made a claim in each of the last 10 years. (284280)

So far, it has not been possible to establish why claims have not been raised by the United Kingdom in respect of treatment provided by the devolved health authorities. However, the Department is working with the Ministry of Justice to identify the information requirements from the devolved Administrations so that this matter can be resolved. As referred to in the answer to Lord Laird of 1 June 2009, Official Report, House of Lords, column WA32, departmental officials are currently exploring the scope for obtaining the necessary data. Until systems are in place, it is not possible to make a meaningful estimate of the cost of treatment not historically claimed for.