UK Government Consults On Migrant Health Levy

By Editorial 09 July, 2013

The UK has launched a consultation into plans to "tighten up on who is entitled to free NHS treatment" by introducing a "migrant health levy" on temporary migrants from outside the European Economic Area.

Under the proposals, short term visitors who decline to pay the levy will not be refused emergency primary medical care from General Practitioners, but they will be charged at the point of delivery. Emergency hospital care "may be limited to what is clinically necessary, and payment will be sought after treatment." However, an exemption will remain in the cases of infectious diseases, including sexually transmitted infections.

The Government describes the moves as "designed to improve the sustainability and fairness" of the UK's health system, and in line with this it also proposes that UK expats should no longer lose their entitlement to free NHS treatment if deemed not to be "ordinarily resident." Instead, the entitlement will continue for anyone who has paid at least seven years of National Insurance contributions.

As an alternative to the levy, the Government is also considering a requirement for comprehensive healthcare insurance, although the levy is currently described as being the preferred option.

Questions in the consultation concern overarching principles: who should be charged; which services should be charged for; how the system can be implemented within the NHS, and the recovery of healthcare costs from within the EEA.

The consultation document adds that the Government intends to discuss arguments against charging with clinicians and other front-line staff, including fears of an increased administrative burden, vulnerable people wrongly being charged, and patients risking their long-term health by avoiding seeking timely treatment.

Tags: Insurance | Tax | United Kingdom | Health Tax | Health Care | Expats | Health Insurance | Healthcare | Healthcare |


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