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Brexit re-opens talks on reciprocal health

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MEETINGS have taken place with the UK on the possibility of establishing a new reciprocal health agreement for Guernsey.

Employment & Social Security president Michelle Le Clerc. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 23854273)

Prior to Brexit-related talks about reciprocal health, the UK government had said it did not want to negotiate any further agreements.

Although Jersey and the Isle of Man had agreements, they were very different to Guernsey’s from several years ago.

Brexit meant the door to these conversations was re-opened, said Employment & Social Security president Deputy Michelle Le Clerc.

‘We are encouraged that there may be some form of reciprocal agreement between Guernsey and the UK although I think we have to be very careful because that does come at a cost.

‘It would have an impact on HSC’s budget [because] they would be giving people visiting the island free health care treatment at A&E which [HSC] currently charges for.’

She said this raises inequity issues as the benefits of a reciprocal agreement would only be felt by those islanders who needed treatment abroad.

‘Not everyone in Guernsey has the means to be able to go to the UK in the first place,’ she said.

‘When we know what the agreement looks like we would have to take details of it to the States for them to decide if that is what they want to pursue.

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‘We are working on that currently, but in the meantime are looking at an in-house solution for those people who have tried to get insurance and have struggled because of the high premium cost.

‘It will be made available to those who can provide evidence to show that, despite making proper attempts at obtaining insurance independently, they have not received quotes for insurance at a reasonable cost,’ she said.

Health & Social Care president Deputy Heidi Soulsby clarified this would relate just to emergency care to ensure the policy is not taken advantage of as the old system had been.

Deputy Le Clerc wanted to highlight the importance of reading the fine-print of insurance policies as it has come to light over the last two years that some details in the fine print could prevent islanders from claiming.

This could be if the trip is less than two nights or if islanders are staying with family or friends.

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