• Consultation Recommends Extending Health Care Costs to More Foreign Nationals
  • January 27, 2016
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • The Department of Health has proposed to exclude some European Economic Area (EEA) residents and some non-EEA visitors from receiving free healthcare for certain services under the National Health Service (NHS). Currently, free health care is available to all UK residents, which includes EEA nationals under indefinite leave to remain status. Those who pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) would be exempt from the requirements.

    If the proposals are implemented, certain foreign nationals would no longer receive government coverage for services such as prescriptions, dental care, ophthalmic care, assisted reproduction, ambulances and out-of-hospital care.

    Applicability to EEA Residents

    The proposal suggests that EEA residents would be excluded from free health care if another member state is responsible for their health care while they are abroad. EEA residents who produce a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Form S1 would still be eligible for free health care and the UK government would recover the cost of treatment from their home country.

    Applicability to Non-EEA Visitors

    Non-EEA visitors not subject to the IHS would be required to pay for costs of certain treatment under the proposals.

    Service Descriptions

    Below are key service types and proposed related payment requirements:
    • The cost of prescriptions, medical appliances and dental services provided to EEA residents with EHICs (over and above the charge paid by the patient) would have to be recovered from the home country.
    • 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.
    • EEA residents who meet the existing prescription exemptions would continue to receive free prescriptions. EEA residents who do not meet the prescription 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 would be required to pay for their own specialist care.
    • General practice and nurse consultations would remain free for EEA residents and non-EEA visitors.

    Asylum seekers, employees on UK-registered ships and others on a prescribed list would be exempt from the requirement.

    What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

    If the proposals are approved:
    • Certain foreign nationals would be required to cover more health care costs.
    • EEA and non-EEA nationals and employers of foreign workers in the United Kingdom should contact their immigration professional to discuss the repercussions and how their healthcare costs should be handled in the future.