Defining the Problem
As the UK voted Brexit in 2016, the treatment of the EU/EEA and Swiss nationals in the UK changed. The government made it a priority to make it easy for the EU/EEA and Swiss nationals to register for the settled or pre-settled status as one became eligible.
With the introduction of the indefinite leave to remain for EU/EEA and Swiss citizens also known as the settled status, the requirements for the comprehensive health insurance was dropped.
This means if you are not economically active and have sufficient savings to maintain your lifestyle in the UK, you can register and receive the settled status.
However, you are only eligible to apply for British citizenship if you are able to demonstrate that you have maintained your comprehensive health insurance throughout your residence in the UK.
You are not eligible to apply for British citizenship, unless you hold comprehensive health insurance.
What is Comprehensive Health Insurance?
Legally, comprehensive health insurance is not defined. The invitation is there to look at the relevant evidence and determine whether the features constitute comprehensive health insurance.
Subsequently, the Home Office has indicated that it will not accept travel insurance as evidence of comprehensive health insurance.
What are your options?
EHIC stands for European Health Insurance Card.
It gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any EU/EEA country, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
If you started to live in the UK before the 1st January 2021, you continued to pay your national insurance contributions in your EU/EEA country of origin or Switzerland and you still have a valid EHIC. It may be possible for you to continue to rely on your EHIC before you become economically active in the UK.
The UK is phasing out EHIC and is replacing it with GHIC, which is Global Health Insurance Card.
It allows you to get state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or sometimes for free.
If you are British or based in the UK, you can apply for UK GHIC with the NHS.
UK GHIC is only suitable for your travel outside the UK and it is not comprehensive health insurance for the UK.
It will not benefit your application for British citizenship.
What are the requirements if you do apply for British citizenship?
Perhaps, first we need to draw the distinction between economically active and economically inactive EU/EEA and Swiss nationals in the UK.
Economically active persons are workers and the self-employed.
These individuals do not need to worry about meeting comprehensive health insurance requirements as they will meet this requirement directly by paying income tax and national insurance contributions on their employment and self-employment income in the UK.
Economically inactive are students and self-sufficient persons.
Students may become economically active if they take on paid employment while studying in the UK.
Self-sufficient person is defined as someone who has sufficient financial means to live in the UK and does not need to rely on welfare in the UK.
Therefore, if you continue to remain an economically inactive and self-sufficient person in the UK, then you need to be thinking about obtaining comprehensive health insurance in the UK.
Comprehensive health insurance: what are your options?
If you become economically active while in the UK, you will meet comprehensive health insurance requirements while paying income tax and national insurance contributions.
In the UK, there are usually 2 plans available:
- International plan;
- Private plan.
The private plan is usually an add-on on your NHS public healthcare plan and still requires you to register with your GP, so that you could secure a referral for your private treatment.
The international plan usually does not require you to register with a GP. However, it is suggested that you will need to secure both plans in order to meet the comprehensive health insurance requirement in the UK.
You may need to identify a suitable health insurance broker who may help you devise a private healthcare cover for you in the UK and internationally.
I am an OISC regulated UK immigration adviser and I can help you to secure your British citizenship or an indefinite leave to remain (or settled status for EU/EEA and Swiss citizens), book a call with me.
You will be first guided to a payment page when you choose “book a call” option. After making the payment, you will be able to choose the most convenient date and time for our Zoom meeting. You can report a payment issue here.
Saule Voluckyte, M.A.E.S, LL.B, FAIA
I have been working exclusively with UHNWI in Mayfair, London since January 2008. I built specialist knowledge and expertise required to serve ultra high net worth individuals investing, operating and relocating to the UK or Switzerland.
Within the industry, I am the single adviser who is able to traverse the different areas of expertise and bring a comprehensive approach across: global structuring, UK immigration, international taxation and FOREX to develop their global wealth strategy, while they build, grow and expand their wealth worldwide.
Previous experience as one of the senior advisors for the government, made me a go-to person when delicate and uncomfortable scenarios involving heads of state need to be handled with care and preserve privacy.