Health insurance could become mandatory for visitors to UK

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A small minority of foreign visitors to the UK come, unfortunately, to take advantage of the NHS. The Department of Health has now said that in order to stop this from happening in the future, new measures might be introduced that would require all travellers arriving in the UK to possess health insurance before they are allowed entry.

Although the NHS provides free treatment to residents, foreigners have to pay for all but emergency treatment. Some people take advantage of the treatment and then leave without paying their bills, and it is this that the Department of Health is trying to prevent.

They now have to decide whether travellers should be required to bring health insurance with them. This will not apply to visitors from the European Economic Area as agreements are in place with member countries.

At the same time, the Department of Health is set to decide whether failed asylum seekers who refuse to comply with the UK Border Agency should also lose their free healthcare entitlement. It is also considering extending the amount of time that British residents are allowed to stay out of the country and still receive free healthcare in the UK: at the moment the period is three months, but it could go up to six months under the proposals.

The NHS currently has to write off about £5 million a year in unpaid medical bills. Although this does not seem like a huge amount, the government is desperate to save money wherever it can to prevent the need to make unpopular spending cuts.


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