The UK's plan to scrap the reciprocal health agreement with the Isle of Man has been greeted with real dismay by many of the Island's elderly. Island residents could face hefty hospital bills after the year 2010 – unless they take out travel insurance.
The ending of the agreement will mean anyone admitted to casualty after having an accident or falling ill during a visit to the UK will have to pay for any ongoing treatment in future. Only the initial emergency care will remain free. But medical referrals to UK hospitals will be unaffected, with the bill being picked up as before by the Manx government.
The change will also affect UK residents visiting the Isle of Man, including those travelling to watch the TT races, as they will no longer be able to rely on free local care.
Travel insurance will have to be taken out for visits to the UK as for visits to other countries abroad.
Unfortunately, this is not so easy as you get older. Insurance for the over-75s invariably only allows a maximum stay away from the Island of 31 days and will not cover any ailments that the individual already has.