Short term visitors and students in the United Kingdom (UK) would now have to pay double the surcharge on health services. The decision comes in lieu of collecting additional funds for National Health Service (NHS).
Long term visitors and students from outside the European Union (EU), including India will now have to pay double the price as health surcharge, which was introduced in the United Kingdom in 2015.
The surcharge is paid by all visitors from outside the EU who live in the UK for six months or more to work, study or join family members.
While visitors will now have to shell out 400 pounds as against the 200 pounds per year, students will have to pay 300 pounds against the discounted surcharge of 150 pounds.
The hike in the surcharge will be effective from later this year and comes ahead of the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care plans raise additional funds for the state-funded NHS, which has been struggling with funding issues.
“It is only right that people who come to the UK should contribute to the running of the NHS. The surcharge offers access to health care services that are far more comprehensive and at a much lower cost than many other countries”, told UK Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes to Indian medias.
“The income generated goes directly to the NHS services, helping to protect and sustain our world-class healthcare system for everyone who uses it, she was quoted.
As per the estimates shared by the department, the NHS spends 470 pounds on average per person per year on treating surcharge payers. The increase in charge is projected to reap in an extra 200 million pounds, a sum which will be used for NHS services.
“Our NHS is always there when you need it, paid for by British taxpayers. We welcome long-term migrants using the NHS, but it is only right that they make a fair contribution to its long-term sustainability,” said UK Health Minister James O’Shaughnessy.
“By increasing the surcharge so that it better reflects the actual costs of using health services, this government is providing an extra 220 million pounds a year to support the NHS,” he noted.
Visitors and students are to make this payment at the time of immigration application and is payable until the time the person is granted an indefinite leave to remain in the UK, or return to their own country at the end of their visa period.
The surcharge is not related to urgent and emergency care, which the NHS provides irrespective of immigration status. The surcharge is also exempted for asylum seekers, refugees and those identified as victims of trafficking or modern slavery.