While the standard of healthcare in the Channel Islands is good, expats should be aware that costs can be high. For most new arrivals, medical insurance is essential, at least initially.
The two bailiwicks have their own separate healthcare systems. Though the Channel Islands have links to the UK, their healthcare is not part of the NHS. It is also important to note that EU nationals will not be able to use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) on either island.
Healthcare in Jersey
While Jersey has reciprocal health agreements with select countries, most expats will have to cover their own medical expenses or take out private health insurance. Emergency treatment is, however, free for everyone.
Once an expat has been resident in the bailiwick of Jersey for six months and has made the required social services contributions, they become eligible for a Social Security Health Card. Holders of this card have access to discounted GP consultations. If the GP prescribes any medication, it's provided free of charge.
Thanks to a reciprocal agreement between Jersey and France, French citizens are eligible for the Social Security Health Card right away and aren't required to observe the six-month waiting period. Jersey also has reciprocal healthcare agreements with a number of other countries, including the UK, Australia and New Zealand, among a few others. However, only short-term visitors can take advantage of these, meaning they aren't of much use to expats moving to Jersey for the long term.
Emergency medical services
In Jersey, emergency care is provided free to anyone who needs it. Non-residents will need to pay for all non-emergency services and care. This includes any treatments outside the public emergency departments as well as post-emergency evacuation and repatriation costs.
Healthcare in Guernsey
New arrivals in Guernsey will be liable to pay for GP visits as well as hospital care, even in an emergency. In emergencies, a flat fee is charged depending on the time of presentation at the hospital as well as the nature of the emergency. After-hours visits to the hospital are more expensive and consultation charges increase with the severity of the condition, which will be categorised as minor, intermediate, major or critical.
Those who are employed in Guernsey and make social security contributions will have access to a number of benefits. For example, consultations with a registered doctor or nurse are subsidised, and those who are referred to a specialist by their GP receive free specialist treatment. Social security also provides access to certain prescribed medications and medical appliances for only a small fee.
Emergency medical services
St John Emergency Ambulance Service operates Guernsey's only ambulance service, providing accident and emergency cover and paramedic response 24 hours a day. St John is only partially subsidised by the government, though, and ambulance services are expensive.
Guernsey residents have the option to support St John by purchasing a yearly subscription. This subscription entitles them to use the service free of charge and is generally a good deal, given that one ambulance trip costs approximately 10 times the yearly subscription fee. Health insurance is also accepted as payment for ambulance services. Patients without health insurance or a subscription have to pay the full ambulance fee.
Pharmacies in Channel Islands
Pharmacies are easy to find in both Jersey and Guernsey. Certain pharmacies stay open after hours and on weekends. Most hospitals have pharmacies attached to them.