The government is to create a temporary healthcare scheme to replace some services previously offered through the European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) if it cannot agree a deal with the EU by the end of the year.
As it stands, the reciprocal healthcare services offered to Britons through Ehic will no longer be available when the transition period ends on 31 December.
But health minister Edward Argar said the UK government would continue to offer temporary support to people who need “ongoing, routine healthcare treatment” when travelling to the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland if a deal is not struck with the EU.
“Negotiations on future arrangements with the EU are ongoing and include necessary healthcare provisions,” Argar told the House of Commons on Thursday (17 December).
“If agreed, such provisions would provide effectively the same healthcare cover as the European Health Insurance Card. The government will continue to work hard to secure these arrangements.”
Argar added that if these talks with the EU failed, the government would create a one-year healthcare scheme to support those needing treatments, such as regular dialysis, oxygen therapy or chemotherapy while travelling in Europe. These treatments are currently covered by Ehic.
“The government recognise that these ongoing, routine treatment costs can be expensive, and makes travelling abroad extremely challenging for many people,” said Argar.
The temporary healthcare scheme will not apply to travel to Ireland as “the UK and Irish governments are committed that UK and Irish residents should continue to have access to necessary healthcare when visiting the other country”.