The first overseas healthcare issue in this brief guide that any British expat will have to get to grips with is paying for medical treatment abroad. The UK is one of the few countries in the world where healthcare is provided free at the point of use. Other E.U. countries have a variety of systems, most of which require the patient to pay for medical bills that the government subsequently reimburses them for.
If you are moving to an E.U. country you can apply for an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), which means you can expect the same access to healthcare as any citizen of the country you are in. However, these are really designed for tourists and short time visitors. It is important to remember that you are only allowed the same access that anyone else in the country is afforded. This does not necessarily mean that all treatments will always be free; dental care and consultations will usually have to be paid for.
If you are planning to move abroad for a long time it is best to research what health insurance programs are available as they may be more appropriate than short-term solutions like an EHIC card. Though the term “health insurance” can conjure up worrying scenarios of extortionate premiums, in most European countries this simply means that you are required to pay for healthcare at the point of use and the government reimburses you afterwards.
When moving abroad it can be easy to assume that healthcare overseas will be inferior to that in the U.K. or be worried that more complicated and advanced medical programs will not be available.
In reality the NHS ranks number 18 in the WHO’s list of the worlds best healthcare systems. So while it can be an ordeal to set up healthcare provision when living abroad, the end result is often a much better service.
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