Emergency medical care for Brits in Europe is at risk if a no-deal Brexit goes ahead.
Current arrangements allow Brits with an Emergency Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to receive free or reduced cost medical care in 31 countries.
The hope is each country will retain the EHIC arrangements until December 2020 regardless of how Brexit pans out.
But so far, only three countries have agreed – including Spain, which is the number one holiday and expat destination for Brits abroad.
Portugal has signalled EHICs will be scrapped if there is a no deal, but British tourists can still gain medical treatment if they show their passports.
Ireland has a similar agreement.
Health cover will cost more
If British tourists or expats need medical treatment in the remaining 28 EU and European Economic Area countries after Brexit, they will have to pay or rely on travel insurance.
Trade body the Association of British Insurers (ABI) explained if EHICs are abolished as part of a no-deal Brexit “insurers will inevitably see an increase in claims costs – this could have a direct impact on the prices charged to consumers”.
Nel Mooy, travel director at one of Britain’s biggest travel insurers, Axa, said: “If nothing changes between now and October 31 and there was no deal, then I’m expecting prices to go up.
“There are too many unknowns to predict how much prices could go up by but points out that travel insurance generally is not all that expensive.
Take out insurance warning
“People who are not well at all already have a higher premium and therefore anything extra, I can totally appreciate that anything more, might be more difficult for them to afford.”
A government analysis of a reasonable worst case scenario following a no-deal Brexit agrees with Mooy.
Operation Yellowhammer documents explain that people could need to pay for treatment in the EU and a minority of patients “could face substantial costs.”
The ABI suggests travellers with long-term health conditions should take out travel insurance before departing the UK.
Some banks and credit cards also offer travel cover as part of their service, but the cover is often conditional on having paid for the trip on a specific card.