UK health charges

Stuff reports:

The Government looks prepared to accept a move from the Government to charge ex-pat New Zealanders a healthcare surcharge on every visa application. 

The UK Government has announced that New Zealanders staying in the UK for more than six months, will be required to pay a surcharge for access to the free National Health System (NHS).

This will be $328 for New Zealanders on the Youth Mobility Scheme or student visas, and $437 for New Zealanders on other visas for more than six months.

Both New Zealand and Australia have a reciprocal health agreement with the UK, for equal access to each other’s public health systems. 

Prime Minister John Key said he was disappointed in the move, but defended the argument of the UK high commission that visits to private GP practices in New Zealand weren’t free. 

“We’re not planning any sort of reciprocal change if you like.

“One of the reasons for that, and this is the point that the British High Commission has been at lengths to explain to MPs right across the Parliament, is that the rules aren’t equal at the moment,” he said. 

I don’t have a problem with the fee per se, but why make it compulsory? Why not give NZers in the UK the option of not using the NHS and paying privately for any health needs, rather than pay the fee?

As I understand it, if you are there for less than six months you don’t need to pay this fee. If you become a resident paying tax, then your taxes pay for the NHS. But this is targeted at those just there for a couple of years, and whose earnings tend to be quite low, so they are little or no income tax to the UK Government.

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