Free movement, free trade and foreign policy cooperation between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom encompassess numerous economic and social advantages, but a major benefit that is often overlooked is healthcare, and how reciprocal agreements between the four countries can provide citizens with health coverage while exercising rights of free movement.
Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom already engage in “Reciprocal Health Care Agreements” (RHCA’s), meaning residents of these countries are entitled to free medical treatment when travelling within each country. This includes emergency treatment and treatment for ill health or injury that arises during a visit/stay.
Such agreements provide multiple benefits for Australian, New Zealander and British citizens, including an added “safety net” when travelling and lower travel insurance costs (before or after treatment is administered).
Not to mention, all three countries host high quality healthcare systems. A study conducted by the University of Utah confirmed that the UK, Australia and New Zealand have the 2nd, 3rd and 5th best healthcare systems in the world (respectively), with effective patient care, access and efficiency.
With a CANZUK agreement establishing free movement, Canada could also establish such healthcare relations with these countries.
Canada boasts the 6th best healthcare system in the world, and like Australia, New Zealand and the UK, provides public health insurance for its citizens and advanced treatment methods for those in need. Canadians would be able to travel to any of the CANZUK countries without purchasing expensive coverage as required when visiting the neighbouring USA, and Australians, New Zealanders and Britons would also be afforded quality healthcare in Canada if required.
The average cost of travel insurance for Canadian citizens visiting Australia, New Zealand and the UK varies from $160-$300 (depending on pre-existing conditions, length of stay and age). Likewise, Australians, New Zealanders and Britons could pay similar prices (and sometimes more) given that many insurance companies do not differentiate between Canada and the USA (instead, only offering coverage for “North America”). With the USA’s health system being complex and privately funded (in most circumstances), this often leaves visitors to Canada paying higher premiums, even though Canada hosts the ideal system for reciprocal health care coverage with other CANZUK nations.
With a RHCA however, citizens of these countries would no longer require costly insurance coverage to visit or travel within the CANZUK group, offering peace of mind before even boarding a flight, and quality healthcare if needed. Of course, if CANZUK citizens wish to relocate permanently to a country of their choice, they are afforded the option of signing on to their host country’s public health scheme, but if CANZUK citizens wish to visit or travel in either Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom (for a period of less than 6 months), a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement between the four nations would be a tremendous tried-and-tested asset that would benefit all involved.
There is no doubt that free movement between the CANZUK countries represents tremendous opportunities for citizens, but the added benefit of reciprocal health care when visiting or working temporarily in these countries makes the pursuit of CANZUK free movement even more valuable.
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