Cross-border healthcare promise for Northern Irish

People living in Northern Ireland will still have access to the equivalent of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) after Brexit, says Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

This promise is totally independent of any action or inaction by the British or Northern Ireland governments or the European Union.

EHIC entitles people to state-provided medical treatment if they fall ill or have an accident in any EU country. It is not for planned medical treatment. If the UK leaves with no deal, the EHIC will no longer be valid.

The Irish government has approved a proposal for draft legislation. This will apply whether they identify as British, Irish or EU citizens.

Anyone born in Northern Ireland has the right to identify as Irish or British or both, thanks to the Good Friday Agreement, a peace deal signed in April 1998 by the British and Irish governments and Northern Ireland’s political parties.

New legislation will mean they would, in future, have their health expenses refunded if they required emergency medical services in another part of the European Union.

The Irish health department says practical details, including the operational elements such as who pays and how, are under development and will be made public when available.