Among all the resolutions one can make at the start of a new year, there are few as big as making the decision to up sticks and move to another country.
Of course, heading abroad to live, work or study involves a lot of organisation – particularly if you have a home to sell, a family in tow and work permits or visas to arrange. With so much on the mind it can be easy to let your health concerns slip to the bottom of the pile. Yet, if one of your family members falls ill in another country it is possible that you may not be eligible for immediate care unless you are able to pay your way.
Let us explain.
If you decide to move abroad on a permanent or semi-permanent basis, you will not be entitled to the provision of healthcare and treatments under normal NHS rules. The NHS is based on residency in the UK and so you should technically notify your GP that you and your family are to be removed from the NHS register.
This also means that if you are moving to another European country, you will no longer be entitled to use your European Healthcare Insurance Card (EHIC) to access care on the continent.
The first step you should take is to investigate how you register with the relevant authorities abroad. In some countries, being registered to work and making contributions through national insurance is enough to entitle you to the state-run healthcare in that country.
Be aware, however, that in some countries there may be additional patient contribution schemes to be joined in order to fully access the facilities on offer.
Depending on the country you are emigrating to, you will also want to gauge the levels of public and private healthcare given in a country and the type of facilities available. For example, some services you would expect to be included on the NHS would not be included under the national health service for some other countries, even if you pay your taxes in that country.
You should also set aside fund to cover healthcare costs for anything that you believe may be necessary but does not fall under the state-run healthcare system in your new home. This may be in the form of a comprehensive health insurance policy or, under some circumstances, setting aside savings.
For a country by country guide, it is worth consulting the NHS Choices website and also the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website.
Be aware also that the rules may differ slightly if you choose only to live and work outside of the UK for a set period. Under these circumstances, you may still be eligible to receive some or all of your healthcare provision in the UK. Often this will be dependent on whether you receive a state pension in the UK.