Not just resident in Spain, of course, but in other EU countries as well as in Switzerland. We’re in Spain though, so I’ll be referring to British pensioners living in Spain.
This isn’t ‘new’ news, but there wasn’t a big fanfare about it, and I’ve recently come to realise that many British pensioners who live here still don’t know about it.
In April 2015 there was a rule change in the UK regarding how the NHS would charge visitors to the UK from overseas. Among these changes was a change in access to healthcare in the UK for British pensioners who are resident in Spain & other EU countries. This also applies to dependents of British pensioners, who access healthcare in the same way.
A British pensioner living in Spain, who is in receipt of a state pension, has their healthcare here paid for by the UK, via a form called an S1. This form is registered with the INSS & Spain then claims a fixed fee from the UK each year for each S1 holder. When they go on holiday in Europe but outside Spain, they use a special EHIC issued by the UK. Until April 2015, they used this EHIC when on holiday in the UK as well.
As from April 2015 they no longer need the EHIC in the UK. They are in fact entitled to full access to the NHS including planned treatment.
The following information is from an NHS document. The section which deals with British pensioners is within section 9, from page 85. Specifically 9.57 onwards:
UK pensioners living in another EEA country
In April 2015, there was a change in law which meant that all UK state
pensioners who are living in the EEA or Switzerland and have registered an S1 form
from the UK with the local authorities in their EEA country of residence are entitled to
not be charged for NHS secondary healthcare, just like someone who is ordinarily resident in England. This rule also applies to any of their family members who also
possess a UK-issued S1. However, they will need to pay any charges which also
apply to UK residents, such as prescription and dental charges. Individuals who have
registered a UK S1 in another EEA country should be asked to provide some
evidence confirming this. If they present a UK-issued EHIC, their EHIC information
should not be entered into the portal for reimbursement. Regulation 13 of the
Charging Regulations concerns this category of patient.
Obligations on OVMs to confirm S1 or A1
To confirm entitlement to treatment, OVMs should, in the first instance, ask the patient to present a copy of their UK issued EU healthcare form (S1 or A1). OVMs will need to check whether there is an ‘end date’ on the form as some S1s are time-limited and entitlement to free NHS treatment is directly linked with the S1 form’s validity. If OVMs have any questions about an S1 form, they can contact the DWP Overseas Healthcare Team (details below) to make further enquiries about the form’s registration status. If OVMs are unable to confirm the patient’s status, and the patient is neither ordinarily resident here, nor exempt under another category under the Charging Regulations, then the patient may be liable for their healthcare costs. However, if the patient is able to present their valid form within a reasonable period of time, the Trust should consider reimbursing the patient for costs incurred.
OVMs can check whether a patient has a registered S1 form in another EEA country by contacting the Overseas Healthcare Team at: Overseasvisitorsteam@DWP.gsi.gov.uk
OVM = Overseas Visitors Manager.
Here’s a link to the document