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State pension alert as certain pensioners now face incurring costs for NHS treatment

express– At state pension age, Britons will be standing at an important crossroads in terms of later life. It is at this point that many will decide what they will be doing now they no longer have to work. A popular decision made by thousands each year is to retire abroad. This can be for differing motivations, such as moving closer to family, searching for sunnier climes, or simply choosing a different way of life. Regardless of the reason for their move, older Britons should be aware of costs they may have to incur due to an important rule change which has taken place recently.

Rules laid out by the UK mean that citizens who have moved to the European Union since December 31, 2020 will not be able to receive free NHS healthcare if and when they return to the UK on visits.

Eligibility for NHS support has changed as a result of Brexit – the UK’s departure from the European Union.

As a result, those who have retired overseas are being encouraged to make note of the difference to avoid being disappointed, and potentially factor this in to their costs.

The reason behind the change, aside from the exit of the trading bloc, is that the NHS has a residence-based qualification system.

This means that those are not considered as “ordinarily resident” in the UK will be classed as overseas visitors for the purposes of healthcare.

Consequently, if they need to use NHS services upon their visit back to the UK, there may be charges which apply.

This is inclusive of former UK residents, even those currently in receipt of a state pension.

However, the NHS does provide guidance as it relates to certain state pensioners who move to an EU country.

Meeting certain criteria such as moving before December 31, 2020, means some will remain eligible for NHS treatment.

If this is the case, people may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK, but will need to take certain actions on the matter.

This involves procuring what is known as an S1 form. This shows that state healthcare is paid for by the UK if one is living in an EU country.

But there are certain rules in terms of the pension or pensions one receives which determine eligibility.

The NHS website explains: “If you receive both a pension from the country you now live in and your UK state pension, you cannot get an S1 form. This is because the country you live in will be responsible for your healthcare.

“If you receive your UK state pension as well as a pension from an EU member state, but are now living in a different EU state, the country to which you paid contributions toward your pension for the longest period becomes responsible for your healthcare.”

Expats may therefore wish to consider whether securing private medical insurance to cover their costs if they visit the UK.

If this is not in place, any treatment a person may have to pay for will be charged at 150 percent of the national NHS rate.

Any emergency treatment a person needs through the NHS is free at the point of use though, regardless of a person’s residence status – but they must not have come to the UK to seek this treatment.

This was confirmed to Express.co.uk by a Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson earlier in the year.

They added: “Visitors who require secondary care are required to cover the costs of this – unless they are exempt – and we recommend they ensure they are covered through personal medical or travel insurance before coming to the UK.”

Those who make a permanent return to live in the UK following a period of time abroad will become immediately entitled to free NHS care and treatment once again.

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