The NHS could receive an estimated £220 million in extra funding under plans put before parliament to double the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
The IHS allows anyone who is in the UK on a work, study or family visa for longer than six months to access NHS services in the same way as UK citizens. The proposals would see the surcharge increase from £200 to £400 per year for non-EU nationals, with students and those on the Youth Mobility Scheme on a discounted rate of £300 per year.
Since the surcharge was introduced in 2015 it has raised over £600 million which the Department of Health and Social Care and the health ministries in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have invested back into their health budgets.
“Our NHS is always there when you need it, paid for by British taxpayers,” explained Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes. “We welcome long-term migrants using the NHS, but the NHS is a national, not international health service and we believe it is right that they make a fair contribution to its long-term sustainability.
“I am pleased that we are a step closer to implementing the changes to the health surcharge, and the extra money raised will go directly towards sustaining and protecting our world-class healthcare system,” Nokes continued. “It is only fair that people who come to the UK make a contribution to the running of the NHS, and even with the increase we still continue to offer a good deal on healthcare for those seeking to live in the UK temporarily.”
The changes better reflect the cost to the NHS of treating those who pay the surcharge, as the DHSC estimates that the NHS spends £470 on average per person per year on treating those required to pay the surcharge.
These changes do not affect permanent residents, who are not required to pay the surcharge. Certain vulnerable groups such as asylum seekers and modern slavery victims are also exempt.
Short-term migrants, including those on visitor visas, are generally charged for secondary care treatment by the NHS at the point of access.
The increase is set to come into effect in December 2018 subject to Parliamentary approval.
Article published 15th November 2018