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Healthcare in UK > Healthcare in the UK

Healthcare in the UK

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Summary: Expats in the U.K. are able to utilize the public health care system, which is managed by the NHS. Many expats want to have private health insurance to help reduce wait times and several other reasons. Read for more details on how to navigate the system.

Expats in the UK - Healthcare in the UK

General Healthcare Info for Expats in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has a socialized health care system. It is called the National Health Service (officia site), or more commonly "the NHS." Expats in the UK

The NHS is one of the most well-known examples of socialized health care services in the world. Its adherents hold it up as one of the best and most accessible systems ever created, while its detractors decry long wait times and an uncertain financial future given an aging population and continuing rise in the cost of healthcare.

In order to gain access to the NHS system, you must establish legal and permanent residency - officially known in the UK as settlement or indefinite leave to remain and pay an immigration health surcharge (IHS).

Historically, expats that enter the U.K. have considered getting private health insurance a must. That shouldn't be viewed as an indictment of the system, but rather what expats have come to expect. Employers do not have to provide private insurance to their employees in the U.K., so it is viewed as a perk that expats want and employers will use to create a package that's attractive.

For expats that are concerned about wait times and who want access to quality care in a private setting can still choose to purchase international health insurance.

Expats living in UK interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

Health Surcharge for Expats on Visa Application

Expats often wo Pay for UK Healthcare as Part of Your Immigration Application

According to the NHS site, You'll have to pay:

  • 300 pounds per year for a student or Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa, for example 600 pounds for a 2-year visa
  • 400 pounds per year for all other visa and immigration applications, for example 2,000 pounds for a 5-year visa
  • Dependants usually need to pay the same amount as you.

You can pay for your U.K. Healthcare Surcharge online.

Medical Emergencies in the U.K.

In the event of an emergency in the U.K., dial 999 or 112.

The abbreviation A&E in the U.K. stands for "Accidents and Emergency Department", which is analogous to the E.R. (Emergency Room) in the United States.

Expats will have free access to emergency services in the U.K.

NHS Wait Times for Non-Emergent Procedures

On the NHS official website, you can read its Guide to NHS Waiting Times in England.

It notes:

"The maximum waiting time for non-urgent consultant-led treatments is 18 weeks from the day your appointment is booked through the NHS e-Referral Service, or when the hospital or service receives your referral letter."

"The maximum waiting time for suspected cancer is two weeks from the day your appointment is booked through the NHS e-Referral Service, or when the hospital or service receives your referral letter."

However, an article in the Independent.co.uk reported that NHS emergency hospital waiting times hit worst level since NHS records began.

It reads that: "Despite pressures from flu and bad weather so far this winter being significantly lower than in 2018, performance against the flagship four hour target in January hit its lowest level since its introduction in 2004."

Similarly, in an article in the Telegraph, Alarm raised over tripling in cancelled NHS appointments:

"Nine million patients a year are seeing crucial hospital appointments and operations cancelled by administrators - almost triple the number a decade ago, official statistics show."

Given these realities, it's not surprising that so many expats want private insurance.

Expat Health Insurance in UK

Expats living in UK interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

Medicines in the U.K.

Access to medicines in the United Kingdom is excellent. There is an abundance of pharmacies where they can be accessed, many as over-the-counter medicines, while others will necessitate a prescription from your doctor.

Expatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in UK from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and 5 Best Places to Live in Spain. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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Updated On: May 31, 2019

First Published: May 31, 2019

Expatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in UK from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

NHS and UK Health Insurance

Are you eligible for coverage under UK's National Health Service (NHS)? Do you also need expat health insurance? This article provides an overview.

Are you eligible for coverage under UK's National Health Service (NHS)? Do you also need expat health insurance? This article provides an overview....

Answer Questions about Healthcare in UK

Help others moving to UK by answering a set of questions about health insurance, public healthcare in UK, prescription medicine, quality of medical care and emergency services.

Having-a-Baby-In-UKExpats Talk about What it's Like Having a Baby in UK

Read recent baby reports submitted for Chipping Norton and York.

If you're an expat parent who had a baby abroad, write a report about your childbirth experiences to help other expecting expat parents.

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