Healthcare System for Expats in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom boasts of an efficient healthcare system, which is called NHS (National Health Service). The government-run and funded NHS is designed to cover the various healthcare-related expenses of everyone living in the United Kingdom. The system also covers expats who have a valid visa issued for at least six months. Their family members including spouse and children can also avail the NHS services.
The standard of care received by both doctors and hospitals in the UK are excellent, but longer waiting periods and access issued do plague the NHS.
While the primary health system in the UK is public and funded by the government, there are many private healthcare insurance providers in the United Kingdom that basically enhance the coverage that is received from the NHS by providing access to private care and hospitals. If you are moving to this region for a job assignment, private health insurance can be a part of your remuneration package from your employer.
Getting EHIC and NHS Health Card
If you are an EU citizen living in the United Kingdom, you would be covered by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The terms and conditions for medical or health-related expenses would be the same as the costs charged for British nationals. You will have to get in touch with your national healthcare service provider in case you don’t have the EHIC before moving to the United Kingdom.
Expats from countries outside the EU will need an NHS number to avail healthcare services. You just have to fill an application form at a local health center and wait for a few days to get the NHS number, which should be sent to you by post.
Health Insurance for Expats in the United Kingdom
For expats, the United Kingdom is a favorite because of its easy connectivity and the endless business opportunities it offers. The best part is you don’t have to learn a new language. Its healthcare system is undoubtedly its biggest appeal; however, you will have to sort out various logistical issues when you reach there for the very first time. Whenever you are planning to make the move, health insurance should be your topmost priority.
As an expat in the United Kingdom, you have many options to choose from if you are looking for global medical coverage. You can select one of the leading insurance providers including Cigna Global Medical. If you are from the United States, you can go for the GeoBlue Xplorer plan, which like Cigna can also cover you in the USA if you get the USA coverage option. People would also choose an expat plan from Expat Financial because they want a global plan to cover them back home and should they move to another expat region.
Emergency Treatments for Expats in the United Kingdom
Even as a non-citizen in Britain, you can avail emergency treatment at the various NHS UK hospitals. However, you may have to bear some expenses, which will depend on the country you are from. The UK healthcare system is built through reciprocal healthcare arrangements among various countries including those from the European Union. This implies that the citizens from these countries won’t have to pay for healthcare in the United Kingdom.
Emergency treatment in UK hospitals is free for everyone, but expatriates will have to enroll for the NHS number to get an appointment with a general practitioner. It is up to the GP to refer a patient for treatments from a specialist; however, the GP will continue to be the main point of contact for almost all cases.
Some of the best private hospitals are located in the United Kingdom and Central London. These hospitals mainly offer specialized care and services and are very expensive. People with international health insurance can certainly afford to go to these private hospitals; however, it is always better to use the NHS.
Emergency Numbers in the United Kingdom
In the case of health-related emergencies, you don’t have to get in touch with a general practitioner. Instead, you should go to a local hospital directly or call the emergency numbers. 999 is the emergency number for UK police, ambulance, fire brigade, and coastguard. 112 is the European emergency number.