Immigration Update: Government Publishes Response to NHS Charging Consultation

17 January 2014

On 31 December 2013 the government published its response to the 2013 public consultation on migrant access and financial contribution to NHS provision in England.

The anticipated health surcharge for temporary migrants will be introduced, subject to the government carrying out some further investigation into exemptions. It is expected to be introduced by April 2015. The surcharge will apply to all those migrants entering the UK on a visa for either work or study. An annual levy of £150 will apply to students and £200 for other non EEA temporary migrants. The initial charge will be collected at the visa application stage but how subsequent annual payments will be collected remains to be decided. The charges will continue to apply until the migrant obtains indefinite leave to remain, which is in line with eligibility for other welfare benefits.

Having paid the surcharge migrants will continue to have full access to all NHS services.

Those exempt from the surcharge include migrants resident in the UK on humanitarian grounds, victims of domestic violence, asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking and other vulnerable groups. Some migrants may also be exempt if suitable reciprocal arrangements are in place in their country for UK nationals to receive free health care services but the government is currently investigating this before passing the relevant legislation.

There are also changes with regard to the charges which visitors will be liable for. At present visitors are entitled to free Accident & Emergency treatment but from April 2015, charges will be in place for visitors using A&E departments. Visitors will be expected to have suitable medical insurance in place to cover the cost of NHS care whilst in the UK.

Currently many expatriates are liable for NHS charges for any treatment they receive whilst a visitor in the UK. However, the government is undertaking further analysis in this area before confirming the details of any proposed new eligibility rules.

Free access to GP consultations for all will be retained but GPs will be expected to participate in a new registration and chargeability administration linked to a person’s NHS Number and patient record. For a link to the document please click here.

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