The Department of Health’s Visitor and Migrant National Health Service Cost Recovery Programme aims to ensure that the National Health Service receives a fair contribution for the cost of healthcare it provides to non-United Kingdom residents and improve the amount of costs recovered from them or their home countries, to ensure the NHS is sustainable.
Since the launch of its implementation plan in July 2014 the Cost Recovery Programme has achieved much progress including:
- The launch of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) reporting incentive scheme in October 2014 to improve the reporting of EHIC details of visitors and students from the European Economic Area (EEA) who access NHS care, for which the UK is entitled to reimbursement.
- Updated Charging Regulations from April 2015, reducing the number of exemption from charge categories for non-residents and realigning the Regulations to the principle that the NHS is a residency-based healthcare system.
- Requiring chargeable patients from outside the EEA to be charged at 150% of national tariff, in tandem with the launch of a risk sharing arrangement with commissioners, thereby encouraging providers to both identify and recover costs from these patients to access the extra funding available.
- The introduction of the health surcharge in April 2015 which now means nearly all individuals who require a visa to remain in the UK for more than six month’s pay an annual surcharge as a contribution towards their healthcare costs.
Furthermore, those with outstanding debts to the NHS of £1,000 or more and who are subject to immigration control can, since 2011, have applications for new visas or extensions of stay refused because of that debt, to encourage them to pay it.