New consultation on health care costs for certain foreign nationals
As part of a new consultation by the Department of Health, it has proposed to exclude certain European Economic Area (EEA) residents and certain non-EEA visitors from receiving free healthcare under the National Health Service (NHS). At present, all UK residents are eligible for free healthcare including EEA nationals holding permanent residence status. If the proposal goes ahead, certain foreign nationals would no longer receive health coverage for services such as prescriptions, dental care, ophthalmic care, assisted reproduction, ambulances and out-of-hospital care. It is pertinent to note that individuals paying the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), Asylum seekers, employees on UK-registered ships and others on a prescribed list would be exempt from these requirements.
The intention is to exclude EEA residents from free health care if another EEA member state is responsible for their health care while they are abroad. However, EEA residents who have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Form S1 would still be eligible for free health care; the cost of their treatment will be recouped by the UK government from their home country.
Non-EEA visitors who are not subject to IHS would be required to pay towards costs of certain treatments.
Below are key service types and proposed related payment requirements:
- Costs relating to prescriptions, medical appliances and dental services provided to EEA residents holding a valid EHIC (over and above the charge paid by the patient) would be recouped from their home country.
- EEA residents who meet the existing prescription exemptions would continue to receive free prescriptions however EEA residents who do not meet the fee exemption criteria would continue to pay the NHS standard prescription charge.
- Non-EEA visitors to whom IHS arrangements do not apply would pay the NHS prescription charge unless the patient meets current prescription exemption criteria.
- All foreign nationals will be required to pay for their own specialist care.
- Prescription and dental exemptions would be removed for non-EEA visitors to whom IHS arrangements do not apply and who are not in one of the exempt categories.
- General practice and nurse consultations would remain free for EEA residents and non-EEA visitors.
Impact for Employers and Foreign Nationals
EEA, non-EEA nationals and companies sponsoring foreign workers should contact their HM immigration professional to discuss the consequences. If you have any questions or require further information, please contact the HM global mobility professional with whom you work with or send an email to email@example.com.