Comprehensive Sickness Insurance: Before and After Brexit

comprehensive sickness insurance
Legally reviewed by: Sherena Lawrence In: Immigration

Comprehensive Sickness Insurance Explained

You may not have heard of comprehensive sickness insurance before.

The UK government haven’t been great at making migrants aware of what it is and why they need it.

So, we thought we should explain a little about it and how it might change in the coming months.

What Is Comprehensive Sickness Insurance?

As the name suggests, it is a kind of insurance which some EU migrants need to have.

This is partly so they can eventually secure permanent residence in the UK.

It cannot be substituted by the UK’s National Health Service, but must be held in addition to NHS access.

There is no one specific type of comprehensive sickness insurance, and each person is looked at on an individual basis.

The UK government are also quite vague in what they mean by comprehensive sickness insurance.

They require “full health insurance”, but are quite unclear on what this actually means.

However, they do say that if your insurance includes cover for “most” or a “majority of” medical treatment, it is valid.

It doesn’t need to cover dental or optical treatment or prescription charges.

Who Needs Comprehensive Sickness Insurance?

Currently, if you are a student or self-sufficient person from the EU in the UK then you should have comprehensive sickness insurance.

You do not have right of residence in the UK unless you hold some form of the insurance.

If you fall, or have previously fallen into either of these categories, failing to hold comprehensive sickness insurance will also mean you’re not eligible to acquire permanent residence in the UK.

Unfortunately, this means even if you have been here for five years studying or being self-sufficient, this time won’t count towards your permanent residency.

People often don’t realise that without the right health insurance they won’t qualify to hold permanent residence, even after being in the UK for the correct length of time.

Before Brexit

As it stands, if you’re self-sufficient or a student from the European Economic Area you should have comprehensive sickness insurance.

If you are a family member of a self-sufficient person or student and are in the UK on a family permit, you also need to have your own insurance.

Your insurance can be in the form of:

  • Private health insurance
  • A European Health Insurance Card, but only if you declare you don’t intend to stay in the UK permanently
  • Proof that you are entitled to healthcare cover in your home country

Don’t worry – this doesn’t mean that you won’t be eligible to access NHS treatment too!

After Brexit

After Brexit, EU migrants will not be granted what is now known as permanent residence, but instead will apply for settled status.

Healthcare requirements for these people are changing too, and comprehensive sickness insurance will not be required for settled status to be granted.

In December 2018 the UK’s immigration minister said that the UK was “removing the need to demonstrate comprehensive sickness insurance”.

What is Your Position Now?

At present, EEA nationals are currently in a position where they can apply for either permanent residence or settled status.

For a person who has been a student or self-sufficient person and has not been able to apply for permanent residence due to not having held sickness insurance, you could now apply for settled status without this hindering your application.

Our immigration solicitors are here to give you advice tailored to your situation.

Legal Disclaimer.

All advice is correct at time of publication.