The United Kingdom has a two-tiered health care system consisting of the publicly-funded National Health Service (NHS) and the private sector. The NHS affords free access to a general practitioner (GP) who will advise on, and prescribe for, general ailments, and who will make referrals to specialists as necessary. The NHS also offers other types of services including:
Students on a Tier 4 Visa
Students studying on a Tier 4 visa (the majority of First-Year students) are required to pay a healthcare surcharge. The non-refundable healthcare surcharge must be paid by students studying at the BISC on a Tier 4 visa. The current cost of the surcharge is £150 for students. Payment of the surcharge enables you to access the National Health Service (NHS) in the same way as a permanent UK resident. Payment may be required for some services such as dental treatment and eye tests.
Please visit https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application/pay for more information. Note that you must make the payment before you submit or send your visa or immigration application (or book an appointment at a premium service centre).
Non-Tier 4 Visa Students
Regulation changes mean that from April 2015, non EEA visitors who come to the UK for less than 6 months (i.e., students in the Fall or Winter or Summer terms) who use the NHS will be charged 150% of the cost of any medical treatment they receive. It is therefore recommended that this group possesses adequate travel and health insurance to be able to reclaim any costs.
UK/EU Passport Holders
UK and EU passport holders can register with the NHS and are not required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. EU nationals will typically need to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in your country of residence to prove that you are entitled to free treatment.
If you need to access the services below then medicines are often free:
- Medicines administered at a hospital or an NHS walk-in centre (can sometimes be £8.80).
- Medicines personally administered by a GP.
- Medicines supplied at a hospital or Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) clinic for the treatment of a sexually transmitted infection or tuberculosis.
Most types of contraception are available for free in the UK. Contraception is free to all women and men through the NHS. Places where you can get contraception include:
- most GP surgeries – talk to your GP or practice nurse
- community contraception clinics
- some genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics
- sexual health clinics – they also offer contraceptive and STI testing services
- some young people's services (call the Sexual Health Line on 0300 123 7123 for more information)
The NHS also covers some dental services and treatments which can be found at http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcosts/Pages/Dentalcosts.aspx and http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/985.aspx?CategoryID=74. You must be registered with the NHS to access these services, but you must also normally be registered with a dentist.
The private sector is accessed through a GP, but allows a patient to see a specialist quickly and usually in a private clinic or hospital. Payment for this kind of treatment is usually requested at regular intervals during a course of treatment or shortly thereafter.