How to use health-care services from 1 January 2021?
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Its departure envisages a change in the rules for making use of health-care services. However, the period until 31 December 2020 was a transition period during which all the current privileges and obligations specified in the provisions of the coordination of social security systems remained in force.
Starting from 1 January 2021, the right to health-care services applies exclusively subject to the rules specified in the two following documents:
- the Withdrawal Agreement1),
- the Cooperation Agreement, called the Trade Agreement2).
Will I retain the right to health-care services?
Yes, if you are subject to one of the following agreements.
You are subject to the Withdrawal Agreement - if you were in a trans-border situation concerning at the same time a Member State and the United Kingdom before the end of the transition period. For example, you were:
- a Polish citizen residing and being insured in the United Kingdom,
- a citizen of the United Kingdom being subject to Polish law,
- a citizen of a third country legally residing in Poland but employed in the United Kingdom.
You are subject to the Cooperation Agreement - if you were not in a trans-border situation but you are subject to the legislation of a Member State or to the legislation of the United Kingdom. The entities covered by the Cooperation Agreement include the citizens of the EU, citizens of the United Kingdom and the citizens of third countries legally residing in the United Kingdom or in a Member State. For example, these are:
- Polish citizens residing and working in Poland,
- citizens of the United Kingdom being subject to British insurance,
- citizens of Australia residing and being subject to the legislation of Poland.
What is the difference between the two agreements?
Both agreements regulate the coordination of social security matters between the EU and the United Kingdom and will apply in parallel. Which agreement will apply to your situation is dependent on whether you were in a trans-border situation before the end of the transition period.
The subject matter of the Withdrawal Agreement is broader in scope. It lays down that you will retain all the rights specified in the provisions of the coordination of social security systems, which includes all the rights you were entitled to before Brexit. The Trade Agreement explicitly specifies the rights you are entitled to. For example, the Trade Agreement will not be applicable to family benefits or assisted conception services.
Note! It may be necessary to establish which agreement is applicable to your situation. You may be requested to provide additional documents confirming your nationality and place of residence. Such documents include your passport, registration certificate for residence of a citizen of the European Union, document confirming the status of a family member. In case of any ambiguities, the case will be subject to an individual examination by the Regional Branch of the National Health Fund (NFZ) being competent for your place of residence.
Can I make use of my European Health Insurance Card while staying in the territory of the United Kingdom?
Yes, the holders of EHICs will still be entitled to health-care services during their temporary stay in the United Kingdom under the current rules. They will receive treatment in the following cases: sudden illness, accident, aggravated symptoms of a chronic disease. The EHIC should be presented directly to a British service provider. In an emergency situation when you do not carry your card, you may request the National Health Fund to issue a provisional replacement certificate for the EHIC. More information about the EHIC/PRC and an application form can be found here.
The holders of British EHICs also retain their rights to undergo necessary treatment in Poland. The existing EHICs remain valid until their validity date or until the date the respective right expires.
Will I receive the S1 document?
You will receive the S1 document if you are entitled to health-care services in Poland, which means that you are insured or are entitled on the basis of specific provisions. The S1 document is issued in case you decide to relocate to Great Britain or any other EU/EFTA Member State. If you are insured in Great Britain and you relocate to Poland, you should request the S1 document from a British insurance institution. You should register the S1 document with the Regional Branch of the National Health Fund being competent for your place of residence in Poland. The regional branch will issue a certificate that you are entitled to make use of health-care services in full scope in Poland.
After 31 December 2020, the certificates issued on the basis of S1 documents or E106, E109, E120, E121 forms will remain valid until their respective validity date or until the date a new document is issued. In case of any ambiguities, each case will be examined by the Regional Branch of the NHF on an individual basis.
What will be the conditions for planned treatment?
After 31 December 2020, you will still be able to make use of planned health-care services both in the United Kingdom and Poland. If you are entitled to health-care services in Poland, which means that you are insured or are entitled on the basis of specific provisions, you should apply for the S2 document. The S2 document is issued to confirm the right to a specific type of planned treatment in Great Britain or any other EU/EFTA Member State. If you received the S2 document from a British insurance institution, you should present it directly to a health-service provider.
How can you become entitled to health-care services in Poland?
You reside in Poland and you are a citizen of Great Britain and you lost the right to make use of health-care services at the cost of Great Britain due to Brexit? If you wish to make use of health-care services in Poland, you must acquire the right to that. You acquire the right to social insurance once:
- You are insured in Poland as an employee or a self-employed person;
- You will receive a British pension or a disability allowance, transferred to Poland through a bank operating in Poland;
- You will acquire the status of a unemployed person in Poland;
- You will be reported to insurance by your relative as his/her family member;
- You may choose a voluntary insurance by applying to the Branch Office of the NHF.
If you are going to become insured voluntarily with the NFZ, you need to obtain from the British institution (NHS) a statement confirming your previous health insurance in the United Kingdom (Form E104/UK). This will exempt you from a charge for a gap in health insurance in Poland.
1) Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community.
2) Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, of the one part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the other part.