From 6 April, all nationals from outside of Europe - including Philippine nationals - coming to live in the UK for longer than six months will be required to pay a ‘health surcharge’ in order to gain access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). The NHS provides world class and comprehensive health care paid for out of general taxation.
Currently non-European nationals coming to work, study or join family members receive free medical treatment under the UK’s NHS in the same way as a permanent resident.
These changes will ensure that those coming to live in the UK make an appropriate financial contribution to the cost of their healthcare.
The health surcharge will be £200 per year and £150 per year for students and will be payable at the same time that an individual submits their visa application online. Visa applicants will need to pay up-front for the total period of their UK visa.
Ambassador Asif Ahmad said:
The UK is hugely proud of its National Health Service, which provides world class care to all residents. It is reasonable and proportionate to ask those coming to live or study in the UK make a financial contribution to the public services they are entitled to access, which is why we are introducing this change.
We of course recognise the very valuable contribution those coming to the UK to study and work make to the wider economy. We have therefore deliberately kept the surcharge at level lower than most private health insurance policies to ensure that people coming to the UK can receive excellent health coverage at low cost. Basic medical insurance will generally not cover the full range of treatment offered by the NHS, including pre-existing and chronic conditions. And, in the case of a medical emergency, it is still the NHS which will be providing treatment.
The changes will not affect visitors coming to the UK on a visit visa and visitors will continue to have to pay for any treatment they receive from the NHS at the point they receive it.
Having paid the surcharge, people coming to live in the UK will have the same access to the NHS as a UK permanent resident for the duration of their visa.
The charge will be applicable to relevant visa applications submitted and paid for online from 00:01 GMT on April 6 2015.
The UK Home Office will collect the charge as part of the immigration application process and payment will be mandatory for those affected.
After completing the visa application form, paying the visa fee and booking a visa application centre appointment on the Visa4UK website, applicants will be required to go to the Health Surcharge online payment portal to make their Health Surcharge payment. Applicants must pay the Health Surcharge prior to attending their visa application centre appointment. UK Visas and Immigration will be unable to issue a visa to applicants required to pay the Health Surcharge if they have not paid. Further guidance and details of the payment portal will be published on the gov.uk website from April 6 2015.
When an application is refused, rejected or withdrawn, the charge will be refunded. The charge will be set at an annual rate. Affected migrants will pay, up front, an amount that covers the entire period of their permission to stay in the UK.
In England alone, use of the NHS by overseas visitors and migrants is estimated to cost up to £2 billion a year – with £950 million of this being spent on temporary, non-EEA workers and students.
International students cost the NHS around £430 million per year and over £700 per head. The surcharge for students will be just £150 per year, a fraction of their true cost to the NHS.
Dependants will pay the same amount as the main applicant.
Non-EEA nationals coming to the UK on a visit visa of 6 months or less are not affected by the change and will not pay the health surcharge.
Certain groups will be exempt from the surcharge and will continue to receive free NHS care. These include:
- Tier 2 Intra Company Transferees
- Nationals of Australia or New Zealand will not pay the surcharge whilst discussions with those countries continue on the scope of reciprocal healthcare agreements.
- Dependents of a member of Her Majesty’s Forces
- Those exempt from the surcharge will still be required to access the Health Surcharge online portal to register and get a Health Reference Number before they go to the Visa Application Centre for their appointment.