NHS cuts free care for British expats living in the EU who retire early

shutterstock_58717219The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has caused a stir this week by banning Brits who retire early in the EU from accessing its free health care. This move will affect many British expats who have taken the opportunity to retire early in the sun but who rely on cheap or free care back home writes

The current legislation means British expatriates under state retirement age (65 for men, 60 for women) can receive free health care in countries such as France and Spain even though they are ineligible because they don’t work. The cost to European Union countries of treating these early retirees is reimbursed by the NHS.

The new rules are part of cost-cutting measures being reviewed by the NHS and will come into force on April 1, says the Department of Health.

Currently early retirees complete a S1 form before they leave the UK which entitles them, and possibly their dependents, to free care for two and a half years. To qualify for the full cover period, expats should have paid National Insurance contributions in the UK for three years prior to moving abroad.

The changes won’t affect those who currently have a valid S1 form, but once it runs out they will be required to make arrangements to cover their health care costs. As the rule is likely to come into force in April, expats who think they’re eligible are advised to fill in an S1 form now, which will enable them to have access for the next two and a half years.

The most recent figures show 2,355 residual S1 forms were issued in 2012/13, with many valid for the full 30 months.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring that the NHS is sustainable and fair for the British taxpayer. The changes only apply to new applications. All existing residual S1 forms will remain in place and continue to be valid until their cessation date.”

The removal of NHS care for expats will mean they will need to find other cover options such as private medical insurance to cover any expenses until they reach retirement age. This will be very costly for some, and for others with pre-existing conditions, it may be impossible to find.

The changes will only affect those who are not working but are under state retirement age and living within the EU. People who qualify for emergency care with the European Health Insurance card (EHIC) will still be able to access treatment.

Expatriate workers pose a regional health threat across Gulf Countries

Communicable diseases (CDs) among expatriate workers in Gulf countries pose a health threat and are a concern for healthcare providers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), say experts. Doctors called for stricter screening methods and tighter public health laws at the Arab Health Congress this week.

Doctor (5)Reported in The National, labour camps for expat workers have been identified as breeding grounds for infectious diseases. Health experts at the Congress spoke of increased awareness of personal hygiene, enforcement of labour laws, and free medical treatment for all workers.

Labour camps in the UAE are often overcrowded, and lack adequate sanitation, clean water and sewage systems, making them ripe breeding grounds for CDs.

“The spread of communicable diseases among migrant workers can be fatal and the effects can be wide-ranging,” said Dr Wasif Alam, director of Dubai Health Authority’s public health and safety department.

He also called for simple hygiene education among workers such as hand-washing, which alone could help stop the spread of disease in the camps. Malaria, TB, scabies, hepatitis B and C, STDs, and food poisoning are some of the most commonly reported CDs in Dubai.

Reports state there are often six workers to one room, with little or no ventilation, and no isolation if someone falls sick. “There are laws to protect workers,” Dr Alam said. “Much of the laws have not been implemented.”

In addition to the threat to workers’ physical health, illness takes a mental toll, as blue-collar workers fear deportation, or losing their jobs so they do not seek treatment. The issue affects the whole region as there are 17 million expat workers in the GCC countries.

In 2012 the GCC introduced health screenings for workers in their home countries, which brought the incidence of disease down from 20 percent to seven percent, reported the Khaleej Times.

“In terms of regulations, I think we have enough here. I think we need to concentrate more on the design of that system and implementing the regulations,” said Dr Farida Al Hosani, manager of the communicable diseases department at the Health Authority Abu Dhabi.

Strong enforcement of labour laws would ensure workers’ treatment was free, that they had access to clean drinking water, adequate accommodation, and vaccines were administered where necessary.

Reproduced by kind permission of expathealth.org

Australians and Mexicans ‘least concerned about insurance’

backview of senior couple looking over the seaMajor considerations for people moving abroad include job security, reliable insurance, and economic stability according to an international survey. The results show availability of reliable health insurance was more important than schools or pensions for those thinking about relocating overseas.

The survey of 7,750 individuals in 12 countries asked respondents to consider the “safety aspects” of emigrating – 22% said insurance coverage for illness and disability, compared with 20% who identified pensions, and only 14% who chose schools as the most important aspect. The most important considerations for a move abroad were job security (43%), a low crime rate (39%), and political stability (28%).

Australians and Mexicans were the least concerned about health insurance, only 10% identified it as a major consideration, preferring instead to worry about a low crime rate. Austrians on the other hand were the most concerned about the availability of health insurance (49% of 500 respondents) than any other factors.

Most popular expat destinations

North America was ranked as the most appealing destination, with 31% of people saying it would be their prefered choice. Australia and New Zealand came second (29%), while over a quarter (28%) of respondents opted for Germany, Austria or Switzerland, and 24% chose Nordic countries.

It’s not surprising that Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are the most popular European destinations, as the state of the economy and job opportunities are among the most important considerations for people moving abroad. Nearly half (49%) of those surveyed selected better employment prospects or unemployment as a motivating factor for moving abroad.

Reproduced with kind permission of expathealth.org

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ALC Health appoints Managing Director to spearhead major client services and systems growth

Global private medical insurance provider ALC Health has announced the appointment of Stephen Godbold as the company’s new Managing Director, taking over from founder Sarah Jewell who moves into the role of Group CEO.

With a career of over 35 years across the insurance sector, Stephen has held a number of high level appointments most recently as Chief Operating Officer at Lorica Insurance Brokers where he was responsible for managing both operational and technical matters across a variety of platforms.

Joining ALC Health at a time of continued growth, Stephen will lead the development of the company’s new IT infrastructure, customer service delivery and compliance management.

Sarah Jewell, Founder and CEO comments :

“As the company continues to enjoy record growth, the importance of ensuring that our members and distribution partners continue to receive the very best customer service and support remains our number one priority.

Stephen joins an already experienced management team and brings with him an additional skill sets that will help ALC Health continue to grow as a specialist boutique iPMI provider with a reputation for delivery excellence”.