An NHS Based Warning For Ex-Pats

March 25th, 2014
An NHS Based Warning For Ex-Pats

It is generally assumed that the NHS was set up for British citizens. However a recent event demonstrated that this is not the case – at least it isn’t now if it ever was.

This came to light when a lady – a British citizen who lives in the USA – came over to Britain on holiday. It seems she fell off a horse and, had to be taken to hospital for treatment for a broken pelvis.

The lady returned home to the US only to receive a phone call from the hospital’s Overseas Visitors Coordinator. The latter told the lady that she was being sent a bill for the treatment she received while in the UK.

The lady told the NHS worker that she was in fact British and not American citizen. However she was stunned by the reply. It seems, according to the coordinator that the NHS is not a citizen-based service but a residence-based service.

In other words, anyone living in the UK is entitled to access all available NHS services free at the point of use. However if you no longer live in this country permanently, then you are classed as an overseas visitor – citizen or not.

In the USA no health service is free. This means that unless you have sufficient insurance to cover the costs of treatment you could be landed with a huge bill.

The lady began to panic expecting a bill covering the cost of all aspects of her treatment. This would be the case if treated by an American hospital. However it seems her worries were unfounded.

Although people from abroad are expected to pay for the cost of NHS treatment it appears that even for these people the actual cost is relatively low.

When lady received her bill she only paid for a total of 6 items costing just £3,464. If treated in the US it is likely the cost would be up to ten times that amount; possibly more.

While this was a pleasant surprise there is a sting in the tail. If any NHS bill is not paid by an overseas visitor – then it can impact on the individual’s future immigration. Being British makes no difference.

Ex-pats are warned.


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