Intended for healthcare professionals


Reciprocal healthcare arrangements after Brexit

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 14 November 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4727
  1. Tamara K Hervey, Jean Monnet professor of EU Law
  1. School of Law, University of Sheffield, UK
  1. t.hervey{at}

People need clear guidance, to avert harm in the event of no deal

Those EU 27 nationals who reside in or visit the UK, and vice versa, are currently entitled to healthcare under EU law. The law covers entitlements for people who are settled in a different country and includes, for visitors, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) system. The underlying ideas are reciprocity (people are entitled to medical treatment as if they were a national of the country providing it) and that the “home country” (where the patient has paid tax or national insurance) pays. The rules are quite complex and sometimes people use courts to enforce their entitlements. The European Commission operates as a clearing house for payments between countries and gives information to people about their rights.

On leaving the EU, the UK will no longer be part of this system. But the implications depend critically on whether the UK government secures a Brexit deal based on the current Withdrawal Agreement.1

Deal . . .

The Withdrawal Agreement, if agreed, will give rights to EU …

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