New NHS surcharge to hit overseas students and workers
New charges have been introduced by the UK Government that will have an impact on students who come to the country from outside the European Union. The new charges will also be a factor for anyone who is planning to stay in the country beyond six months.
The charges apply from April 6th 2015 and are part of the Immigration Act, which became law in 2014.
The idea is that all non-EU migrants and students make a financial contribution to the cost of their NHS care. Currently, the use of NHS services by overseas students, visitors and migrants is estimated to cost up to £2 billion a year in England alone.
Now, students not from the European Union will be required to pay an annual £150 surcharge, whilst non-EU migrants staying for six months or longer will be charged £200 a year. Payment has to be made when the immigration application is made.
This requirement could result in quite a financial burden in some cases. For example, if an overseas worker is applying for the maximum allowed time of five years, they will have to pay £1,000 upfront at the time of the application. Similarly, if that person has a dependant spouse and three children applying simultaneously, the total cost payable upfront would be £5,000.
But the new charges will raise £200 million a year, according to the Home Office, and money raised will go straight into the NHS’s coffers. This will help to balance out otherwise free health care for people from outside the UK and EU.
People visiting the UK for less than six months, children under 18 in care, people making an application for asylum, victims of human trafficking, and people from Australia and New Zealand are among those exempt from the charge.
The new charges have come under attack from the National Union of Students, who say that those students from outside the EU tend to be younger and fitter than most people who need NHS treatment. It is therefore argued that they place only a minimal burden on UK health services.