Australia


Australian and NZ expats must now pay UK health surcharge

by Ray Clancy on May 20, 2016

Expat from Australia and New Zealand in the UK are now subject to the country’s health surcharge under changes announced to make the NHS cost burden fairer.

Nationals from these two countries had been exempt from the £200 per person charge which was introduced for non-European Union citizens a year ago, but from 06 April they too must pay the fee.

The health surcharge is currently set at £200 a year for temporary migrants and £150 a year for students and dependants will generally be charged the same amount as their main visa applicant and it is payable upfront.

healthcareEU

It has been introduced to ensure that temporary, non-EEA migrants coming to the UK for more than six months contribute to the NHS in a manner in line with their immigration status.

It is not a visa fee and although it is collected by the Home Office, it is sent directly into the National Health Service (NHS) and will give migrants access to the NHS on the same terms as a permanent UK resident.

A spokesman for the Home Office pointed out that the surcharge has been set at a competitive rate and is lower over the period of stay than the cost of even basic private medical insurance.

“Private medical insurance for students and working migrants is a common requirement in many of our competitor nations, such as Australia and the USA and the costs there are higher. Private medical insurance in the UK, which is comparable with healthcare provided by the NHS, is likely to be significantly higher than the proposed surcharge,” the spokesman explained.

He added that basic medical insurance will generally not cover the full range of treatment offered by the NHS, including pre-existing and chronic conditions and treatment for pregnancy. Furthermore, in the case of a medical emergency, it is still the NHS which will be providing treatment.

Health surcharge payers access the National Health Service in the same way as a permanent resident and they will receive NHS care generally free of charge but may be charged for services a permanent resident would also pay for, such as dental treatment and prescription charges in England.

The health surcharge is payable in full at the time of the immigration application. The amount of the charge will be calculated based on the amount of time a migrant would be permitted to stay in the UK under the relevant category in the Immigration Rules.

If someone pays the surcharge and is granted a visa but then decide not to travel to the UK they will not be refunded and likewise if a visa holder leaves earlier than planned there will be no refund available.

“Your visa or immigration application won’t be granted if you don’t pay the healthcare surcharge or your application will be delayed if you don’t pay the right amount,” the Home Office spokesman added.

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