The Czech government will discuss denouncing a 1976 agreement with the United Kingdom on cooperation in medicine and health that guaranteed free treatment for British citizens. In recent years, the Czech side has been spending more to care for UK citizens than the UK spends on Czechs.
After the accession of the Czech Republic to the European Union in May 2004, the agreement no longer applied since the provision of urgent health care for EU citizens was mutually free of charge. But after Brexit, the 1976 agreement would come into force again.
Currently, according to a document prepared by the Czech Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs, over 100,000 Czech citizens are staying in the UK for a long time or permanently, and another 300,000 people from the Czech Republic visit the country every year.
According to the ministries, denouncing the agreement should not cause problems for Czechs residing in Britain since, under current British law, free healthcare is provided to all people residing in the UK by the National Health Service. In such cases, Britain does not demand compensation from the Czech health insurance company.
According to available data, over 3,800 Britons were treated in the Czech Republic last year at a cost of 23 million CZK, while only 702 Czechs in the UK at a cost of approximately 3.5 million CZK. None of the patients paid for healthcare themselves and eventually asked for compensation upon their return.
The 1976 agreement lacks provisions for reimbursement for the provided healthcare.
Britain left the EU at the end of January, and a month later the two sides began negotiating an agreement on future mutual trade, security, and other relations. The negotiations were further complicated by the coronavirus crisis.
The transitional period during which the current rules apply to relations between the Union and the UK will end on December 31.