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I “retired” in 1998 at age 59, having worked overseas since 1969.
All the time I was overseas I continued to pay my U.K. national insurance premiums, “class 2 self-employed”.
When I retired we came to Spain, and I continued to pay my N.I. premiums until I was age 62, when I received a letter from the D.H.S. informing me that I had paid enough and no further payments were required .
During those first 3 years we had private health insurance, but after that we applied for and were transferred on to the Spanish National Health system. where we have been since, and receiving good health care .
We were informed by the U.K. N.H.S. that if we ever returned to live in the U.K. we could transfer back on to the U.K. N.H.S. system again.