Cross border healthcare will continue

 

The relationship between the UK and Ireland is different to the relationship between the UK and anywhere else in the EU because of the Common Travel Area (CTA).

The UK and Irish governments are both committed to maintaining the CTA if there is a no-deal Brexit. It allows access to emergency, routine and planned healthcare for UK nationals in Ireland and Irish nationals in the UK.

While the principles have been agreed and both countries are keen to have the legislation in place if there is a no-deal Brexit, the technical details have not yet been completed. There are fears that a hard Brexit would mean that although Irish citizens living in the UK would be entitled to healthcare, this may not apply to a spouse and family.

The Irish government has passed legislation to allow for continued cross-border healthcare, even with a no-deal Brexit; called The General Scheme of the Miscellaneous Provisions (Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 29 March 2019) Act. Part 2 refers to the Department of Health and arrangements to facilitate continued access to healthcare in Ireland and the UK. In parallel with this are 28 statutory instruments that the Irish government has identified as being necessary should a no-deal Brexit materialise.

A range of reciprocal healthcare arrangements, including reimbursements, will be maintained between Ireland and the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The arrangements facilitate access to health services in the UK and Ireland, including access to emergency, routine and planned healthcare, and put the continuation for the Common Travel Area arrangements on a legal footing post-Brexit.

The healthcare section covers 18 sections, ranging from guaranteeing that Irish residents with rare diseases or requiring transplants can continue to be treated in UK hospitals to making sure that the HSE can process patient data for UK patients in Irish hospitals.

Frontier workers, including people in the Border area who live in Ireland but work in the UK, workers posted to Ireland from the UK for no more than two years, and pensioners in receipt of a UK state pension who do not receive an Irish contributory state pension will continue to have full healthcare eligibility without means testing.

UK residents and students, including people in the Border area living in the UK but working in Ireland, will continue to receive healthcare if they become ill or have an accident.

Northern Ireland resident workers in the Border area can continue accessing healthcare should they not qualify for full eligibility following the means assessment.

Irish patients with rare diseases and requiring certain organ transplants will still be able to access healthcare in the UK under reciprocal arrangements. The Department of health can now legally cover costs of healthcare in the UK under the same conditions as now.  The legislation creates a similar scheme to the EU cross-border directive through which Irish residents are reimbursed for the cost of treatment in UK hospitals to ensure these patients can continue to be reimbursed post-Brexit.

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