Northern Ireland

Details of Irish government's EU medical reimbursement scheme could be published within weeks

The Irish government is continuing its plans for a scheme to reimburse people in Northern Ireland who have to pay for medical treatment while on holiday in the European Union after Brexit
The Irish government is continuing its plans for a scheme to reimburse people in Northern Ireland who have to pay for medical treatment while on holiday in the European Union after Brexit

The Irish government is continuing its plans for a scheme to reimburse people in Northern Ireland who have to pay for medical treatment while on holiday in the European Union after Brexit.

From January 1, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme, which gives holders the right to EU public healthcare, will no longer be open to British citizens, including people living in the north.

A spokeswoman for the Republic's Department for Foreign Affairs said the UK and EU are involved in discussions about the north's continued access to the EHIC.

But she said the Irish government is also continuing its own plans for a medical treatment reimbursement scheme. The scheme would cover all EU countries, apart from the Republic, and Switzerland.

READ MORE: Supermarkets to get three-month 'grace period' from Northern Ireland post-Brexit checksOpens in new window ]

The government has reiterated it will cover the cost of the scheme for all citizens in the north, including those who do not have Irish passports.

"The scheme is designed to address any loss of access to EHIC rights by eligible Irish, British and EU citizens who are residents of Northern Ireland and who do not maintain EHIC or equivalent rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, EU Regulations or otherwise," she said.

She said details of how the scheme will operate, if needed, will be published this month.

The European Health Insurance Card
The European Health Insurance Card

The spokeswoman also emphasised that Irish passport holders in the north will retain EU citizenship under the Northern Ireland protocol.

"It confirms that Irish citizens in Northern Ireland, 'will continue to enjoy, exercise and have access to rights, opportunities and benefits' that come with EU citizenship," she said.

"Irish citizens will continue to have EU citizenship wherever they live.

"They will continue to enjoy the right to travel and live and work anywhere in the EU and the right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of nationality. Irish citizens do not need to take any action to protect their EU citizenship."