Brexiteer Steve Baker has confirmed the government wants the UK to keep hold of its current healthcare benefits after it leaves the EU.
The Wycombe MP, who played a key role in galvanising Tory eurosceptics ahead of the referendum last year, said the UK will seek to protect benefits which allow its citizens to access health services in Europe for free, or at a reduced cost, as part of its exit negotiations.
Responding to a written question, Baker, who was made a Brexit minister by Theresa May after the general election, said: “As part of a reciprocal deal, we are looking to protect the healthcare rights of both UK-insured individuals who are living in the EU and of EU-insured individuals who are living in the UK before the specified date.”
He said the governments wants UK residents to continue to be able to obtain European Health Insurance Cards, which allow them to easily obtain medical treatment while on holiday or staying temporarily in EU countries.
“The UK is also seeking to protect EU healthcare arrangements that enable those who have moved to the EU and continue to receive a UK benefit or draw a UK state pension to receive healthcare cover by the UK in their country of residence,” he added.
“We will also seek to protect EU citizens’ eligibility for NHS funded healthcare in the UK and vice versa for UK nationals in the EU.
“Those who present valid documentation receive treatment on the NHS, the cost of which is reimbursed to the UK by the member state which provides the individual’s insurance.”
Brexit secretary David Davis has previously said the government is keen to keep cut-price arrangements in place and that the UK would provide an agreement “unilaterally” if a system cannot be jointly put together with the EU.