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Health Insurance: Foreign Nationals

Question for Department of Health

UIN 63573, tabled on 8 February 2017

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will estimate the number and proportion of visitors to the UK in possession of valid travel medical insurance in the last 12 months.

Answered on

24 February 2017

In 2015/16 income identified from overseas visitors and migrants using the National Health Service was £289 million of which £69 million was from directly chargeable patients, many of whom are non-European Union nationals. Non-EU nationals who have left the country with NHS debts of more than £500 outstanding for two months can be refused permission to re-enter the country unless they repay the debt.

We do not collect data from NHS trusts or foundation trusts at a clinical specialty level about the cost to the NHS of providing care to non-EU nationals.

Since April 2015 almost all individuals who require a visa to remain in the United Kingdom for more than six months are required to pay a health surcharge. Those who visit the UK for less than six months are usually directly chargeable for any NHS hospital treatment they access and are advised to have travel insurance to cover any charges.

The Government has no current plans to make valid travel medical insurance a requirement for all persons applying for a UK visit visa. As such, we have not estimated the number of people and proportion of visitors to the UK who may be in possession of valid travel insurance in the last 12 months, nor the numbers of visitors who may have used their insurance to pay for NHS services, nor the amounts recovered by NHS trusts or foundation trusts from insurance companies for services provided to visitors.

The Department has not made an assessment of the effect of the Schengen area travel visa insurance scheme on the level of health tourism in the UK.