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Health Services: Foreign Nationals

Question for Department of Health

UIN 223699, tabled on 6 February 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what estimate he has made of the money that will be raised as a result of the steps his Department is taking to ensure greater recovery of the costs of NHS care provided to visitors and migrants from (a) EEA countries and (b) non-EEA countries in (i) 2014-15 and (ii) each of the next three financial years.

Answered on

11 February 2015

Following the public consultation undertaken in August 2014[1] and the Government’s response of December 2014[2], the Department of Health has been working to design and implement key improvements through the Visitor and Migrant NHS Cost Recovery Programme. The programme has the stated aim to recover up to £500 million per year from chargeable overseas visitors and migrants (or their home countries) by the middle of the next Parliament (2017/18). This will be reinvested into the National Health Service to support the sustainability of NHS frontline services.

The £500 million will be made up of £200 million a year from health surcharge income, £200 million a year from better identification of patients from the European Economic Area[3] (EEA) and recharging to their home countries, and £100 million a year from better identification and recovery directly from patients outside of the EEA. These figures represent a significant improvement on the baseline of £73 million recovered in 2012/13.

The 2014/15 financial year-end data will not be available until summer 2015.

Early indications from one initiative – the European Health Insurance Card[4] (EHIC) financial incentive introduced on 1 October 2014 – already show an increase in both the value of EHIC patient activity being recorded and the number of NHS trusts who are collecting EHIC details from patients.



[3] The EEA provides for the free movement of persons. The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Switzerland is also included as it is part of the single market: this means Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other EEA nationals.

[4] If visitors from the EEA are insured under their respective state’s healthcare system, they are eligible for a EHIC. This gives access to medically necessary state provided healthcare during a temporary stay under the same conditions as people insured in that country. This card allows us to recover costs from respective states. If a visitor does not have an EHIC, we can charge directly at 100% of tariff, providing they are not exempt under the regulations.

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