latest health care news

17.02.15

Foreign visitors to be charged at 150% of tariff rate for NHS care

The Department of Health has announced plans to change how the NHS charges foreign visitors for care in an effort to recoup £500m a year in costs. 

From April, people who live outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland will require health insurance when they visit the UK, and those with no insurance will be charged at 150% of the NHS national tariff for any care they receive.

The DH said the changes will “ensure that people who already live and work in the UK do not end up paying through their taxes for visitors who are not economically active”.

For now the new rate only applies to secondary care – treatment in A&E departments and at GP surgeries will remain free for all. However the government is launching a new consultation to look at expanding the charging system to cover GP appointments this year.

Eligibility for NHS care is based on ordinary residence but the government has estimated that it loses hundreds of millions every year by providing free healthcare to visitors who do not actually live in England.

As is the case already, most people, who live or work in another EEA country or Switzerland will continue to get free NHS care using a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued by the country they live in. This means the NHS can reclaim healthcare costs from the original country of residence.

UK pensioners who live abroad in the EEA will also now have the same rights to NHS care as people who live in England, provided they are registered for healthcare in Europe with an S1 form.

However, former UK residents who live elsewhere in the EEA or Switzerland but do not receive a state pension will require an EHIC card or health insurance.

Everyone living outside of the EEA, including former UK residents, will require health insurance, unless they are covered by an exemption, such as being a member of the armed forces.

Anyone returning to the UK on a settled basis will be classed as ordinarily resident, and will be eligible for free NHS care immediately.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

Lomond Handley   19/02/2015 at 09:55

How does our NHS plan to recover monies owing by visitors from abroad, who fail to pay after having received NHS treatment and do these costs apply only to EU citizens, or visitors from other countries as well ?

Lomond Handley   19/02/2015 at 10:05

About time too ! However, it's too little, too late. Our NHS has been bleeding to death for years, thanks to people from other countries using it, which cost millions if not billions, as well as greedy and overpaid directors, plus other NHS bosses who were often appointed, not because of WHAT they knew, but WHO !

Christine   11/03/2015 at 19:49

How many countries are known not to pay back the required amount. We need to see that more forcibly enforced and that it can actually work. There are millions owing to the country now

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