Effective October 20th 2017, the UK Department of Health published changes it had made to the way the NHS charges overseas visitors for NHS hospital care. These changes are an update on those made in April 2015 to ensure that the NHS was not losing out on income from migrants. As a result, NHS charges called Immigration Health Surcharge were introduced for temporary migrants and students. Currently, nationals from outside the EU visiting the UK for longer than 6 months are mandated to pay; £200 for temporary migrants and £150 for students as part of their immigration application. These payments entitle migrants to full range NHS care with exception of prescriptions and dental care which most citizens would normally pay for.
The new changes though now mean that visitors from outside Britain will pay in advance, the full estimated cost for non-urgent care otherwise treatment will not be provided. The government’s reason for this is to clamp down on “health tourism” which is costing the UK up to £2bn annually. Ministers also said the changes were an attempt to protect “a cherished national institution that is paid for by British taxpayers”.
Hospital staff will therefore be told to routinely ask patients for utility bills, bank statements and proof of employment in a bid to identify those who should be paying for NHS treatment under this new law.
According to NHS direct for unplanned treatment on a visit to the UK from a non-EEA country, even if you are a former UK resident, you need to ensure you are covered for healthcare through personal medical or travel insurance for the duration of your visit. If you need NHS treatment and you have not arranged insurance, you will be charged at 150% of the standard NHS rate, unless an exemption category applies to either you or the treatment. Failure to pay for treatment would affect further immigration application.
Some NHS services or treatments are exempt from charges, so that they are free to all. These include:
- accident and emergency services – not including emergency treatment if admitted to hospital
- family planning services – this does not include termination of pregnancy or infertility treatment
- treatment for most infectious diseases, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- treatment required for a physical or mental condition caused by torture, female genital mutilation (FGM), domestic violence or sexual violence – this does not apply if you have come to England for the purpose of seeking that treatment.
Dear migrants please ensure to take heed before you make your plans. Best wishes.