Now, non-EU students applying for visas from early next year will need to pay £150 as ‘immigration health surcharge’ with their visa application fee, according to new plans announced on Monday to recover the costs of treating non-EU nationals in UK hospitals.
The plans were announced following evidence that many non-EU nationals arrive in the UK needing immediate medical care, which is currently provided free but put new burden on a National Health Service (NHS) facing financial cuts.
The new surcharge is expected to meet some of the costs of providing medical care to Indian and other non-EU visitors who are in the country on a temporary basis. The surchage will be levied on applications from early 2015. There have been reports of ‘health tourism’, when non-EU citizens arrive here heavily pregnant or needing urgent medical care.
According to the plans to be rolled out in the near future, patients from outside Europe using the NHS will be charged 150% of the cost of treatment. This means that for a procedure that costs 100 pounds, such patients could be billed up to £150. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We have no problem with international visitors using the NHS as long as they pay for it - just as British families do through their taxes”.
However, the plan document says that the NHS should not stop treating patients needed immediate treatment, even if they had not paid in advance, since doing so would breach the Human Rights Act 1998.