UK citizens are accustomed to relying on the National Health Service when they are in need of medical attention. This service is provided completely free of charge to all and citizens only have to pay prescription charges for any drugs that may be required. There is usually a subsidised discount on the applicable charges, although not always.
The NHS is taken for granted by many UK citizens and the concept of actually having to pay medical bills seems completely alien to many. With this in mind, it is absolutely imperative that you remember that you may be required to pay for medical assistance in other countries. Therefore, before you relocate, ensure that you have an adequate health insurance policy in place. Check which medical conditions are covered, and which are not, and do not be tempted to purchase cover that is much less expensive than other policies. Often, lower cost policies will not provide an appropriate level of protection for yourself and your family members. See our free section on expat health insurance for more information.
In order for a UK citizen to receive medical treatment in another EU member state, it is necessary to obtain a ‘European Health Insurance Card’ (EHIC). These may be obtained by calling 0845 606 2030 for an application form. Alternatively, you can log on to: https://www.ehic.org.uk/Internet/home.do
If you have retired and are moving to another EU country, you will also need to consider the Form E121. This is available through Age Concerns website at: http://www.ageconcern.org.uk
You should also bear in mind that other countries’ health care systems may not be as advanced as that found in the UK. Indeed, in some third world countries, the available level of healthcare may well be rudimentary in comparison. On the other hand, the UK does not enjoy the best system in the world and therefore there are a number of countries where you will encounter higher levels of service.
Whilst making enquiries to the relevant embassy or high commission, you should investigate this essential requirement at the same time. Keep in mind that many countries may not permit you to relocate unless you have a healthcare policy in place.
You will find even more useful, country-specific information in our comprehensive city relocation guide.