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Health costs for Brits in EU to be covered for six months in no-deal Brexit

Government pledge extends cover for new conditions that begin after exit day

The government has pledged £150m to temporarily cover the healthcare costs of 180,000 British nationals living in the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said workers, pensioners and students in the EU who currently have their healthcare funded by the UK would continue to be covered for six months.

The government will also pay the treatment costs of UK tourists if they began their holiday before the UK leaves the EU.

Sue Wilson, chair of Bremain in Spain, said: “They keep making these announcements and they seem to think they will provide reassurance. But they are time-limited and therefore have the opposite effect – people will ask what happens after six months.”

Jeremy Morgan, vice-chair of British in Europe, told the Guardian the government’s plea to Britons to sort out healthcare if NHS cover disappears was “another massive let down” for UK pensioners in the EU.

He said people won’t get private health insurance if they have existing conditions, and in countries where it is possible to join a national scheme the cost is unaffordable for someone living on the state pension.

Earlier this year, the government pledged to cover the costs of healthcare for up to 12 months for all British citizens in the EU who had started treatment before exit day. The new pledge will extend healthcare costs for new conditions and treatments that begin afterwards.

An estimated one million Britons live in the EU, but the majority are earners who pay into EU member state health systems through tax and/or insurance and therefore should remain covered.

The government announcement covers Brits who are retired, students, employees of UK companies or those who are on holiday when Brexit happens, the newspaper reports.

Visitors who fall ill or have accidents on holiday or on short stays in the EU are currently covered by the European health insurance card, but this will no longer be valid in a no-deal scenario.