On 29 March 2017, Her Majesty’s government
declared that it intended to leave the EU and thus triggered the two-year
deadline preceding Britain’s exit and stipulated by the EU Treaty. In the
meantime, the Brexit deadline has been extended and is set to end no later than
on 31 January 2020. The question that remains unresolved relates to the point
in time and conditions of the exit (Brexit).
This is the reason why the Deutsche
Sozialversicherung (German Social Insurance) is preparing different scenarios
including consequences it may have on insureds and all those entitled to a
This will have implications for the health
and care insurance system as well as for the accident and pensions insurance
system. The above applies to the gainfully employed connected to the United
Kingdom, to students matriculated in the UK, beneficiaries of a German pension
including their family members as well as British subjects living in Germany
and all those intending to claim pension entitlements once the Brexit process
The withdrawal agreement is the agreement
defined in the EU Treaty to be concluded between the candidate for departure
and the EU. It stipulates all terms and conditions governing the severance and
regulations required for the transition phase. The withdrawal agreement
successfully negotiated between the EU and the government of the United
Kingdom, rejected more than once by Parliament and recently renegotiated,
stipulates a transition phase which will last until 31 December 2020. Such
phase may be subject to a one-year or two-year extension. During this period,
regulations concerning the coordination of social security systems will remain
in force (e.g. in respect of tourists, expats, pensioners, students) so that
insureds and those entitled to a pension will continue to have the same
entitlements as before.
In case of an occupational accident or an
occupational disease, they may use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or
an entitlement document to obtain medical treatment in the United Kingdom or
have their care allowance transferred to there. In case of an occupational
accident or disease, also British subjects who are covered by the National
Health Service (NHS) could still be indemnified in the EU on the basis of the EHIC
or the provisional replacement certificate or said entitlement document issued
in the UK. Moreover, in order to acquire pension rights, German and British
time accounts could be tallied up so that the minimum period of insurance of
each pension type can be attained.
Should we be confronted with a no-deal
Brexit, i.e. without any rules governing the severance and without any
transition period, neither the European social security coordination rules nor
the Directive on the Application of Patients’ Rights in Cross-border Healthcare
would be applicable. This is why the manifold benefits, which would apply in
relation to the UK during its EU membership or else during a transitional phase
following the UK’s departure based on a deal, will be excluded after a no-deal
The Social Security Agreement signed by the
Federal Republic of Germany and the United Kingdom on 4 April 1960 could
possibly be reinstated. It is true that it includes requirements concerning the
applicable law, e.g. in respect of secondments or exemption agreements, but is
not congruent with the coordination law in force. This, however, does not
include, among other things, care insurance.
Getting ready at the federal level
With the aim to avoid any transitionless
lapse of existing benefits, the Federal State legislator has passed a bill on
transitional arrangements in the field of Social Security (BexitSozSichÜG in
short) in case of the UK’s departure from the EU. Inasmuch as this unilateral
step in relation to the United Kingdom is possible, the idea is to ensure
short-term grandfathering, to maintain trust and to avoid social hardship in
support of those particularly concerned by Brexit.
In concrete terms, this means that insureds
permanently residing or having resided in the United Kingdom will neither lose
their health or care insurance coverage nor be obliged to take out concurrent
policies as a result of Brexit. Situations arising out of membership rights and
eligible insured periods accrued in the United Kingdom shall even now be taken
As the provision of assistance in the form
of benefits in kind as stipulated in the United Kingdom in case of a no-deal
Brexit will not be applicable, rules on cost recovery for persons permanently
residing in the UK and having declared their adherence to the statutory health
insurance fund (“GKV” in German) in accordance with the BrexitSozsichÜG are
expected to provide relief.
Provided, however, that benefits due on
account of an occupational accident or occupational disease are claimed, cost
recovery shall be granted according the German Code of Social Law VII.
In the field of pension insurance, all
those benefit rights acquired within the framework of the statutory pension
insurance scheme and ascertained during the UK’s EU-membership will be
preserved. In case of a pension entitlement claimed after a hard Brexit, such
periods of insurance that have been accrued in the UK may as a rule and in
accordance with European law be taken into account beyond the exit day.
The umbrella organisations of the German
social insurance system have issued a joint statement on the implications a
no-deal Brexit may have for employers and employees in insurance and
contribution law, to be published at short notice in case of a no-deal Brexit.
The GKV-Spitzenverband has published
Brexit-related information at https://www.dvka.de/de/informationen/brexit/citizens.html. This website describes possible implications arising in connection with the
Brexit by asking questions and giving related answers to the target group of
employers and gainful workers, insureds, British citizens residing in Germany,
students and service providers.
The German statutory accident insurance
system (Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung) has published Brexit-related
information at www.dguv.de.
The German Pension Insurance (Deutsche
Rentenversicherung) has released information on Brexit at www.deutsche-rentenversicherung.de.
Once it has been made clear when and under what circumstances the United
Kingdom will leave the EU, all those concerned will be proffered tailor-made