Brexit impact on the EU medical tourism

At this point, nobody knows where Brexit will take us and when it will star or even finish. At Medrefund LTD we decided to share our thoughts on the medical tourism market from the UK to EU countries. As we are specialising on refunded medical services that are covered by EU Directive 2011/24 we will more concentrate on medical services that are available on NHS.

We did contact NHS England cross-border team in order to bring clarity to our clients and partners across Europe. We wanted to get answers and find out what is happening with NHS refunded treatment after Brexit.

There are 3 different things we wanted to know and let’s take a look at them:

  • Will NHS patients have access to planned treatment abroad after Brexit?
  • How long after Brexit patients will be able to apply for treatment?
  • Will the patient have access for a refund if treatment is started before but finishes after Brexit? 
Brexit impact on the EU medical tourism

Treatment abroad after Brexit

Based on the NHS answer we can let you know that at the moment the NHS will not accept any applications for treatments that are planed after October 31. What does that mean? Basically, if you are planning to have your surgery abroad, make sure it is done before the Brexit date!

If you decide to plan your surgery after Brexit date there is a chance that you will not be able to get a refund. But it all depends on several things, like when will Brexit happen, what will be the conditions, will there be a deal, will there be a transitional period, and if there is a deal what will be the conditions. 

NHS refunded treatment deadline after Brexit

And here we are entering the grey zone, – there is no clear answer! And nor we, nor the NHS, and by the looks of it, not even the Department of Health and Social Care has 100% decision. We hoped and so the NHS confirmed, that there should be a period of time when patients still will be able to apply for a refund. Although there will be a transition period…. how long? That is the hardest question, it can be anything from 3 months up to several years similar as it happened with banks and PPI.

So what does it mean for patients? If you did receive treatment abroad since 2013 you have a right to claim refund from NHS.

What if treatment abroad finishes after Brexit?

We wanted to know what happens if surgery is on the 28th of October but the patient is discharged on 2nd November??? Interesting isn’t it? And again with our questions, we have hit the jackpot. There is hope but no promises will be made. The NHS has used words such as: “We are hoping that situations such as scenario 3 would be honoured, but we await further advice.” Funny but this week we had a patient who is planning to have surgery in Poland. So our only advice was, make sure you reschedule your operation, move it one week before!

If you are on the NHS waiting list and are considering going abroad we are advising you to do your treatment before Brexit.

Brexit impact on NHS refunded treatment abroad – conclusion

At this point, there are so many unknown things happening with Brexit. One thing we know for sure if you are planning to go abroad to do your surgery make sure you do it before Brexit. And if you on the waiting list, hoping and thinking about treatment abroad, make your decision sooner than later.

We do not think that extra funding will be sufficient enough to sort out NHS problems and waiting lists will get longer. Available treatment will be reduced be delayed. We will expect more problems with the healthcare system in UK

Arnis Krasovskis

Medrefund LTD

10/09/2019