All nationals from outside of Europe coming to live in the UK for longer than six months will now be required to pay a “health surcharge” in order to gain access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
The new system went into effect on April 6. The UK Home Office will collect the charge as part of the immigration application process and payment will be mandatory for those affected.
Applicants in Myanmar need to pay the surcharge in cash at the same time as paying their visa application fee when they attend their appointment at the visa application centre, the British Embassy in Yangon said in a statement.
UK Visas and Immigration will be unable to issue a visa to applicants required to pay the Health Surcharge if they have not paid, it added.
When an application is refused, rejected or withdrawn, the charge will be refunded.
These changes will ensure that those coming to live in the UK make an appropriate financial contribution to the cost of their healthcare, the Embassy statement said.
The health surcharge will be £200 per year and £150 per year for students. The surcharge will be payable in cash at the visa application centre in Yangon, at the same time the visa fee payment is made. Visa applicants will need to pay up front for the total period of their UK visa.
British Ambassador Andrew Patrick said: “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.
“We, of course, recognise the very valuable contribution those coming to the UK to study and work make to the wider economy and so have deliberately kept the surcharge at a competitive level – lower than most private health insurance policies.”
The changes will not affect visitors coming to the UK on a visit visa and visitors will continue to have to pay for any treatment they receive from the NHS at the point they receive it, the statement added.
The Embassy claimed the surcharge levels are lower than the cost of medical insurance required in some of our competitor nations such as Australia and the US, and for overseas students, the surcharge represents only 1 percent of the total cost of studying in the UK for a three year undergraduate course.
Currently non-European nationals coming to work, study or join family members receive free medical treatment under the UK’s NHS in the same way as a permanent resident.
In England, use of the NHS by overseas visitors and migrants is estimated to cost up to £2 billion a year – with £950 million of this being spent on temporary, non-EEA workers and students.
Non-EEA nationals coming to the UK on a visit visa are not affected by the change and will not pay the health surcharge.
Certain groups will be exempt from the surcharge and will continue to receive free NHS care these include Australians, New Zealanders, Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfers and Dependents of Her Majesty’s Forces.