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Migrants to be charged at 150% for secondary care from April

Overseas visitors without a European Health Insurance Care (EHIC) will begin being charged 150% of the tariff pricing for secondary care from April.

The Government, which has launched a crackdown on ‘health tourism’, said it now expects that charging migrants, visitors and former UK residents will help claw back £500m a year by 2017/18.

The implementation of migrant charging plans, announced today, comes as Pulse revealed this month that GPs in 10 pilot areas of England will begin conducting nationality checks of all new patients, asking for an EHIC or S1 form if applicable.

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.

The new rules will also apply to UK citizens who live overseas except for those in a limited number of roles employed by the UK Government but stationed overseas, such as the armed forces. English state pensioners living overseas will continue to be entitled to free NHS healthcare but have to show their S1 form.

For now, patients will continue to be able to access GP services free of charge, but the Government is launching a new consultation looking at expanding the charging system to cover GP appointments this year. Emergency treatment will also continue to be available to all in A&E departments.

The Department of Health 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’.

A DH statement said: ‘People who live outside the EEA, including former UK residents, should now make sure they are covered by personal health insurance, unless an exemption applies to them. Anyone who does not have insurance will be charged at 150% of the NHS national tariff for any care they receive.’

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

Ministers had previously said charging migrants could generate £200 million annually in extra income for the NHS. GPs have warned they must not become the ‘border agency’ responsible for ensuring non-eligible patients are charged.

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Readers' comments (8)

  • Good....

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  • Under current legislation it is impossible to make this work. After the general election we may find politicians with the stomach to change the rules but i doubt it.

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  • As a foreign resident visiting family in UK I had coverage....my daughter broke her arm and required X-ray and cast putting. We informed the hospital we had coverage and our insurance company were ready to pay..... The hospital informed us it was too difficult to process it and did not charge us..... The rules may change but unless the hospitals and surgeries have the means to collect and process payments tHis will be meaningless.

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  • So if emergency treatment is to remain free does that mean that if they just turn up in A/E they won't be charged?

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  • I have lived, worked and paid taxes & NI in the UK for 8 years and I am ordinarily resident. I am registered to a GP practice (can't even remember how to get there as I was there just once - the day I registered) but I have never used it even for once. Can I have some refunds please? Or is it not just to ask for this?

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  • Not sure which bit of social welfare concept you don't understand but no, it's not just to ask for a refund.

    Unfortunately I till get patients like OHC above who thinks they should be given the most expensive treatment and unnecessary test because they contributed £XXX into system and never "taken" anything out.

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  • @GP Partner: I asked a question and you already have already put me in a bracket of patients. I know you know and understand everything about social welfare concepts, which of them says charge migrants? If it is not fare that people who do not contribute into the system should receive free treatments/services, is it fair that those who put in and never take anything be left just like that? Yes, it might me fair afterall they will one day take something out - it is inevitable. I want you to know that the same way it hurts taxpayers that some non-tax payers are enjoying more of the welfare, it hurts migrant taxpayers who are fully aware that majority of non-taxpayers are actually resident in the UK - by these I mean your healthy but lazy brothers and sisters who are on benefit and will for ever remain on benefits and completely outnumber those you are going to hammer. Chargers for visitors? Yes, I totally agree but what about "resident visitors" - those described above.

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  • OHC,

    Not sure about your reading ability but I suggest you read the article and digest it first. You might be embarrassed about your ranting.

    For your information, I myself am not British. I don't hold citizenship.

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