Many people when deciding to move to another European country forget to consider health options.
They often assume they will be automatically provided with free cover by the host country, for any medical problems arising. This is not always the case.
Your social security cover will depend on your economic status, and may vary depending on whether you are employed, self-employed, unemployed, a student, posted abroad, working across the border from where you live, and so on. You can not choose which country you will be covered by.
Depending on your situation, you will either continue to be covered by the social security of your home country, or you will fall under the regime of the country you move to or work in.
You also might presume that standard care in the host country is similar to that provided at home. Again, this might be incorrect. For example, in the UK, elderly people are entitled to Outreach help, meaning carers and a meal service may be provided. Due to the culture of strong family ties in Southern European countries, this is often not provided, as a family member would be expected to care for elderly relatives.
Another important factor to consider is your age and whether you are working or retired, as retirees can be treated differently. You need to plan your health cover for your retirement years as well, as this is when you are most likely to need medical assistance. You need to check whether you will be entitled to free healthcare in your ‘home’ country, as a retiree, if you were to return after several years working abroad.
Working Age Members
There is often a dual agreement between European countries to offer medical assistance to each member’s citizens for a set period of time regardless of whether they are working or not. Make sure you take the necessary proof that you need to get this automatic cover, which may be a special certificate. Read the small print to ensure that you will be able to get the medicines or treatment you need overseas.
Working members of most European countries will be entitled to some sort of State cover, so once you have found paid employment, or set up your business, you will join the host country’s medical system, and benefit from the standard care offered to its citizens. Remember to check that standard of care to see how it might compare to your home country.
Each European country will have different specific rules for health cover. Some countries, such as France, will cover only a certain percentage of the costs automatically, and you will need to take out additional insurance with a private provider to cover the remaining balance, or pay out of your own pocket for the extra costs.
Be aware that for working age members, who chose not to work up to the retirement age in the host country, ie they have retired early in the eyes of the State, medical cover may not be offered, and you will need to buy private medical insurance.
If you do not feel that the health cover provided by the State is sufficient, then there are many providers of private health insurance. You may have two options; you can buy health cover from a provider in the host country, or you can buy cover from one of the many international private health insurance companies. The second of these, often has the benefit of covering you for private care in both the host and the home country, suiting those who may split their time between two countries.
For details of the cover you can expect in each of the European countries visit; www.europa.eu
Retirement Age Members
Firstly, check out what are the official retirement ages within the host country.
Here are the current (February 2012) ages; Note that several EU countries are planning to increase their retirement ages gradually over the next few years.
Austria; 65 men, 60 women
Belgium; 65 men, 60 women (based on 45 years contributions men/ 40 years contributions women)
Bulgaria; 63 men, 60 women (must have certain number of points as well to retire at these ages)
Czech Republic; 62 men, 57 to 61 women (depending on number of children raised)
Estonia; 63 men, 61 women
France; 60 (must have 41 years of contributions)
Italy; 65 men, 60 women (but can retire earlier if have 35 years of contributions)
Lithuania; 62.5 men, 60 women
Malta; 61 men, 60 women (65 for people born after 1962)
Poland; 65 men, 60 women
Romania; 63 men, 58 women
Slovakia; 60 men, 57 women
Slovenia; 63 men, 61 women
Sweden; flexible retirement from 61 years (pension increases up to retirement at 67 years)
United Kingdom; 65 men, 60 women
If you have decided to retire early then you may receive no State medical cover, and will need to take out private medical cover.
If you have worked up to retirement age you should be entitled to some medical cover.
Check www.europa.eu for full details of the cover you can expect when you retire.