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European Health Care Payments

Volume 579: debated on Wednesday 30 April 2014

The Government have taken the decision to cease certain payments that the UK is not obliged to make under the European regulations governing health care entitlements, effective from 1 July 2014. These are payments made to UK citizens who may be visiting or residing in another member state, and removing these entitlements could save up to £7 million.

These payments are reimbursements for European health insurance card (EHIC) co-payments and residual SI forms. EHIC co-payments are the payments individuals may need to make when accessing health care in another EEA country using their EHIC card where that country requires a financial contribution from its own citizens, for which reimbursements can currently be claimed from the UK. These reimbursements will cease from 1 July 2014. It will still be possible to claim reimbursements for any course of treatment received before 1 July, and for a treatment started before 1 July and continuing beyond that date during a particular stay in another EEA member state, for example a continuous stay in hospital.

Residual SI forms are currently issued to early retirees moving to another EEA country and not taking up employment, providing a temporary period of health care cover for maximum period of 30 months, dependent upon the individual’s recent national insurance contribution record in the UK. Applications for residual SI forms will no longer be accepted after 1 July 2014. This change does not affect current holders of residual SIs or the right of UK state pensioners to access health care when they retire to another EEA country.

These payments are not required under EU law, so the UK is currently going over and above its European obligations. These proposals were outlined in the consultation in July 2013 on migrant access to the NHS and then in the subsequent Government response, published in December 2013.