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NHS Treatment For Expats?

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British expats  may soon be allowed access to free NHS care in the UK based on their previous National Insurance contributions. At present British people living overseas and not resident in the UK are not entitled to receive NHS treatments.

But a review of who is entitled to health service treatments is expected to change this, says Shelter Offshore. It seems the government is considering allowing expats with at least seven years of National Insurance contributions behind them to have at least some access to free healthcare. For many expats this could be a financial lifeline.

Medical costs abroad can be huge, depending on where expats decide to live. For example, research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that a heart bypass operation in the US is 50 per cent more than one in Canada.

Meanwhile a new report from the International Federation of Health Plans, which represents 100 insurance companies, highlights exactly how costly it can be to receive medical treatment in certain countries. In the US a CT scan costs $566 – around £365 at today’s exchange rate – against just £112 in the UK.

Surgical costs vary just as wildly. In Spain an appendix removal operation costs $2,245, while in the US the same procedure is over $8,000. Prices are also high in Australia ($5,467) and in New Zealand ($5,392).

A recent study from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office revealed many people simply do not understand how much medical treatment costs. Almost half of Brits (47 per cent) mistakenly believe it would cost £5,000 or less to treat a broken leg in the US, despite the actual figure being more than eight times than that, costing approximately £40,000.

Certainly any move to make NHS care available to Brits whether they are resident in the UK or not would be a welcome move for many who are put off moving overseas because of the cost of medical treatments. -


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