What will happen to the European Health Insurance Card and emergency medical treatment after Brexit?

Published: 4th Dec 2018

We’ve had help answering this question from our friends at the Institute for Government.

During the transition period (which will run from from March 2019 to December 2020 if parliament pass the withdrawal agreement) current arrangements around the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme will still apply.

The EHIC scheme allows citizens of European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland to “access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay” in any other country in that group. Those signed up to the scheme can access “medically necessary” treatment for free or at a reduced price.

The government has said it wants both UK and EU citizens to be able to continue using the EHIC scheme after Brexit, but this will need to be agreed as part of any deal on our future relationship. This future relationship will be negotiated during the transition period―it is not the same as the withdrawal agreement.

In March 2018 a House of Lords report said that “in the absence of an agreement on future relations, the rights to reciprocal healthcare currently enjoyed by 27 million UK citizens, thanks to the European Health Insurance Card, will cease after Brexit.”

This article is part of our Ask Full Fact series on Brexit, answering your questions about Brexit and the latest negotiations between the UK and the EU.

You can see all the questions we’ve answered so far here. If you want to ask us your own question, do that here.


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