In the absence of a Brexit agreement to replace the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme, the government will cover the cost of EU holiday healthcare for people in need of routine hospital treatment such as dialysis and chemotherapy.
Health Minister Edward Argar unveiled the plan in a written statement in Parliament on Thursday. This arrangement will last for 12 months from January 1, 2021.
Kidney Care UK has welcomed the scheme, which is campaigning for health insurance cover for kidney patients who need daily treatment and as they face expensive travel insurance next year.
Argar said: “The government will launch the scheme with the intention that people receiving treatment abroad will be able to use it through regular dialysis, oxygen therapy or certain types of chemotherapy. The government acknowledges that these ongoing, routine medical expenses can be costly and have become challenging for many people traveling abroad. “
This means that British citizens who need life-saving treatment, equipment and medication can now plan to travel next year at no extra cost. It is not clear whether this applies to people in the middle of all types of treatment.
Applicants for the project must be residents of England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland and be eligible for treatment in the NHS, Argar said. He added: “Individuals need to work with their NHS clinics to ensure they meet their treatment requirements and meet the scheme’s criteria.”
If Brexit trade talks end, the government will expect bilateral agreements with EU countries that are popular with British tourists if there is no overall agreement on the EHC.
Argar said: “If we do not achieve EU-wide measures, the government will evaluate its options for mutual healthcare. This includes the possibility of discussing bilateral measures with the member states of the European Union on the integration of social security, including mutual health care. “
Faina Loud, policy director at Kidney Care UK, said it could help 30,000 people in the UK undergo dialysis. Traveling is extremely valuable to kidney patients and their families, he said.
“A break means the world to them; Now that the vaccination program has started, it is something to be expected, ”he said. “We welcome the move and the reassurances that it provides for patients, but also to ensure that people are not paid in advance.”