28, May 2015: British expats living outside of Europe have been warned to ensure they have correct health insurance when visiting the UK, as the NHS will no longer be free for them. Expats living within Europe who have an EU medical card will be able to access NHS healthcare as normal.

The new regulations, which came into effect on April 6th, are part of a new scheme launched by the UK government in an attempt to save the NHS £500 million a year by 2017/18. The new guidelines so far only apply to hospital treatment, with GP appointments and treatment in A&E remaining free of charge.

Without the correct health insurance, expats travelling from outside of Europe face hospital fees of up to 150% of the cost of the treatment. British expats living in Europe must be sure that they obtain an EU medical card, also known as a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), in order to receive their free treatment when returning to the UK.

UK state pensioners living within the EEA (European Economic Area) are entitled to free health care on the NHS if they are receiving a UK state retirement pension and have registered a social security S1 form for health care in Europe. If they are yet to complete this form, it can be found within the Department for Work and Pensions or the health authority within their chosen European country.

For UK expats who aren’t working and are also under the UK retirement age, an EHIC card will be even more essential if they want to receive free NHS treatment.

A spokesperson from in-depth information website, All About EHIC, commented, “We hope that UK travellers will take their health insurance even more seriously and do some in-depth research into what their EU medical card can do for them. It’s so important that people don’t end up being caught out and paying terribly high health fees because they were unaware of new regulations.”

About All About EHIC:

P.K. Chong is the Managing Director of All About EHIC. As a major insurance authority, All About EHIC provides information and top up insurance for those travellers who already have the EHIC. This top up insurance will cover issues not covered by the EHIC card. Contact them at http://allaboutehic.org/

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