Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I mentioned some time ago that I have been caught out in the matter of health care cover here but did not go into detail. I do so now for three reasons: to point out the absurdity of the rules, to warn others and to ask if any readers have more information.

As I understand it, if you move from the UK to another EU country and are not of state pension age, your entitlement to health care in the new country depends on your UK National Insurance contributions over the last three years. For health reasons, I retired from secondary school teaching ten years ago and since then have worked virtually full-time in adult education, but at an hourly rate. My NI contributions have entitled me to health care here, under Form E106, from July 2005 to January 2007. Even if my contributions had been higher, my entitlement would have ceased in July 2007 as two years is the longest period of cover you can receive under Form E106, unless you are in receipt of UK disability or incapacity benefit or similar. After that period, you are on your own! [You may be covered again when you reach state pensionable age but in my case that is unlikely as I will not receive a full state pension.] So it is that an EU citizen can find himself / herself without health cover within the EU. [If you are working in the new country, it is not a problem, I understand, but again, what would happen upon retirement?]

This state of affairs appears to me to be both unjust and ridiculous as if I were in the UK and not working my entitlement to state health care would not depend on previous NI contributions [though eligibility for health benefits would, but that is a different matter] . My beef is that I taught for twenty-three years in the nation's schools and the situation I was in eventually made me ill. I pulled myself back from that illness and sought other employment, the irony being that, had I been claiming incapacity benefit , I would have cover here now. Another irony is that, if I were a non-EU citizen, I could simply pay the Italian State 700 - 800 euros per annum - which I would be perfectly happy to do - and receive cover. Now it seems that I will have to take out private health insurance which I cannot really afford. So much for equal rights for EU citizens within the EU!!

It is important to point out that none of this is due to failures or bureaucracy within the Italian system. Indeed, all the officials I have spoken to have been as mystified by the rules as I am and have done all in their power to help. The fault lies within the bureaucracy and administration of the EU.

Does anyone out there have more information? Have people elsewhere been caught out? [My internet reading suggests that they have.] Can anyone suggest a solution?

I am aware that some American readers will have a different attitude towards private health insurance and can only say that British people do not expect to have to purchase it!


Anonymous said...

Best wishes in finding a solution. I don't understand the EU workings on health care, but it does sound like a bureauctatic nightmare.

Liz Hinds said...

It is a mystery indeed. The NHS has spoiled us - even with all its faults.

Liz Hinds said...

Did I leave a comment before? Or did my internet connection die before i finished?

Anyway, it sounds horrendous. The NHS may have its faults but we have been spoiled by it.

(Harvs is nudging my arm, asking to say hello to Simi.)

Anonymous said...

I would suggest you take it up with your MEP in Italy, he/she needs to follow itup on your behalf. You could also try your constituency MEP from the UK, the more the better.

Anonymous said...

The same has happened to me, I left a comment before, suggesting you take it up with your MEP, both in Italy and your constituency in the UK.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks for your good wishes, Steve. Hi, Liz. No, you didn't leave a comment on this one before. I have found the Italian Health system very efficient the few times I have had to use it; you don't have to wait for dr appointments or even hospital ones. It's this bureaucratic EU business of entitlement that is getting to me. Simi says "Hello and wags" to Harvey. "Nearly Christmas, Harvey. Have you started hinting to your mummy about what you want yet? I have! Luv, Simi". [Liz, I am thinking that non-doggy people might be reading this and thinking we are both bonkers! But we know we're not, don't we?! -WL ]

Maria said...

Thats really awful. Here in the US it's not much better. Unless you know how to work around the system which some do but if you do not know how like most it's awful! Plus just getting someone knowledgeble to explain benefits.. oh dear lord don't get me started. Just awful! ~M

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear all this WL. I saw a tv report recently warning retired UK citizens who leave to live in EU countries that they will not receive the same welfare and social support should their health fail and that this should always be taken into consideration when deciding to move abroad.

Now they say!

Presumably all the 'buy your property in Spain/Cyprus etc' companies will be carrying a suitably worded health warning soon...

Which won't help you. I hope a solution is found either beaurocratically or circumstantially.

Woof to Simi (no dog here, just me being friendly).

Ballpoint Wren said...

That's awful!

In the U.S., if we have a tough problem with a government organization, we can ask our congressman to intercede on our behalf.

I did this when my father's car was caught in a beaurocratic loophoole that prevented him from registering it (it was a vintage car--this was back in the '80s).

Anyway, I wrote letter after letter to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, trying to get the situation resolved but to no avail; meanwhile the fines kept piling up!

A co-worker suggested writing to my congressman and within one month the congressman had worked everything out for my dad, with all the fines removed.

Surely the UK has something similar. Perhaps the representative of the neighborhood in which you lived while you were working?


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