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From 6 April 2015, all nationals from outside of Europe coming to live in the UK for longer than six months will be required to pay a ‘health surcharge’.
The health surcharge will be set at £200 a year for temporary migrants for more than six months and £150 a year for students and will be introduced for non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals who apply to come to the UK to work, study or join family for a time limited period of more than six months. Non-EEA nationals who are already in the UK and apply to extend their stay will also have to pay the supplement.
There are some exemptions to this rule, for example Australian and New Zealand nationals will not have to pay the surcharge as the UK has reciprocal healthcare agreements with them. Anyone coming to the UK on a tourist or visitor visa will not have to pay the surcharge, as they will remain directly chargeable for hospital treatment as is the case now.
The surcharge is not a visa fee and is being introduced to ensure that temporary non-EEA migrants contribute to the NHS. It is mandatory even if the affected migrants have private medical insurance.
Charles Hay, UK Ambassador to South Korea has stated that; "The UK is hugely proud of its National Health Service, which provides world class care to all residents. It is only fair that those coming to live or study in the UK make a financial contribution to the public services they are entitled to access, which is why we are introducing this change."
Having paid the surcharge, migrants will have access to the NHS on the same terms as a permanent UK resident. The money generated by the health surcharge will go directly to funding the NHS.