to the UK –
beware new NHS regulations

New NHS charging regulations will also affect visitors to the UK and former UK residents

From 6 April this year, the way in which overseas visitors are charged for receiving healthcare whilst in the UK will change. As part of an effort to recuperate £500 million a year by 2018, the government will scrap the current system whereby a patient is handed the bill at the end of their treatment and instead ensure that payment is received ahead of time.

Non-EEA migrant visa holders will be hardest hit, having to pay a health surcharge of £200 for each year in which they expect to stay in the UK as part of their UK visa application. The changes, however, concern more than just those applying for permission to work, live or study in the UK.

Who else will be affected by the NHS charges?

Visitors to the UK from outside the EEA, including former UK residents, will also be affected by regulatory change and are advised by the Home Office to take out health insurance when visiting the UK. Unless exemption applies to them, a charge of 150% of the NHS national tariff will be incurred for any treatment received without valid health insurance.

Treatment in A&E departments and at GP surgeries will remain free for all.

Will anybody be exempt from these charges?

Yes. People who live or work in Switzerland and other EEA countries will continue to receive free healthcare in Britain using their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). EEA and Swiss nationals who are not working and are under the UK retirement age must show their EHIC or proof of private health insurance in order to avoid paying 150% of the NHS national tariff.

UK state pensioners living outside the UK will now be entitled to the same rights regarding healthcare as people living in the UK.

The following groups of people are also entitled to free UK healthcare as, despite living outside of the UK for long periods of time, they are still classed as being ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK. These are: UK Crown servants, British Council of Commonwealth Graves staff, those in government-funded posts overseas, and the spouses/civil partners and children (aged under 18) of these people.  Members of the armed forces, war pensioners and armed forces compensation scheme recipients and their families are also exempt from NHS charges.

If you are worried about how the NHS surcharge could affect your visit to the UK or drive up visa application costs for you or your dependants, please contact Smith Stone Walters today for friendly, up-to-date advice.

More on this topic…

New rules to improve overseas visitors’ contributions to NHS care

Migrant health surcharge expected April 2015

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