the national health system (sns) offers health coverage to all legal residents, regardless of nationality, visa status, or tax or insurance contributions. therefore international students in the uk can benefit from the nhs in the same way as british citizens.
However, to register with the NHS, international students will need to pay a surcharge at the same time they apply for a UK student visa. Here’s what you need to know as an international student about the UK healthcare system.
do international students in the uk need private health insurance?
international students in the uk do not need to purchase a private health insurance policy, neither for visa application nor for enrolment. Of course, you can get private insurance to cover yourself if you want to receive medical treatment at private clinics or hospitals in the UK, but it’s not a necessity. the nhs covers most things you need and is used by the vast majority of british citizens and residents.
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how much do international students have to pay for health insurance in the uk?
international students in the uk have to pay £470 a year for health insurance. This is called the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), and you have to pay it along with the visa fee when you apply for the student visa. you must also pay a separate ihs for each dependent joining you, if applicable.
the immigration health surcharge (ihs) is a fee that everyone who comes to live in the united kingdom must pay in order to access nhs benefits. if your course of study is less than six months then the charge is just £235.
You can use this calculator to determine how much you have to pay for the immigration health surcharge.
how to pay uk student immigration health surcharge?
You have to pay the immigration health surcharge when you apply for your UK student visa. If you are submitting your visa application online, you must pay the IHS by debit or credit card during the application process. you will be redirected to a site where you must complete the payment within 30 minutes before returning to the visa application.
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If you are submitting your application by post, you will need to pay the IHS online before applying for the visa. You must provide information about the type of visa you are applying for, your email address, and your passport number.
after payment, you will receive an ihs reference number to submit your visa application.
how does the nhs work for international students in the uk?
once you pay the immigration health surcharge, you will be registered with the nhs and will be able to benefit from nationwide health care during your studies. under the nhs, you don’t need to pay anything for:
- consult with your doctor or visit an outpatient clinic.
- hospital treatment after an emergency (a&e).
- treatment of minor injuries in a public clinic.
- consultation or treatment with a specialist when referred by your GP.
- prescription medications.
- dental care.
- eye care, such as eye exams, glasses, or contact lenses.
- wigs and fabric holders.
- examination, diagnosis, preventive care and emergency care, such as pain relief or a temporary filling: £23 80.
- Actual fillings, root canals or tooth extractions cost around £65.20.
- all treatment in bands 1 and 2, as well as certain more complicated procedures such as crowns, dentures and bridges: £282.80.
- You are a hospitalized patient.
- are pregnant or had a baby in the last 12 months.
- You are under the age of 18.
- has a medical condition such as cancer, diabetes or epilepsy and has a medical exemption certificate (medex).
- 3 month ppc – £30.25
- 12 month ppc – £108.10
the nhs, in most cases, does not cover the cost of the following:
after arriving in the uk, you need to register with a local general practitioner (gp) clinic, which is the first place you should go for treatment or medical advice.
what are general practitioners (gp)?
Physicians who provide services under the NHS are known as General Practitioners (GPs). They work in local clinics alongside other doctors, nurses and administrative staff. You must register with a primary care doctor so that there is a doctor in charge of your ongoing medical care and you have a point of reference for your medical concerns.
gps will keep track of your medical history and records and refer you to medical specialists or consultants if you need more specific treatment.
how to register with a gp as an international student in the uk?
Most gps in the UK will have a website through which you can register. If registering online is not possible, you can call, email, or visit the clinic in person. You will need your student residence card, your IHS reference number, as well as a GMS1 registration form to register. You can find a local GP on the NHS website based on your town, city or postcode.
doctor visit in the uk for international students
International students can visit a GP or walk-in clinic in the UK for free. If you visit a walk-in clinic during business hours, you will have to wait your turn. If you want to avoid the long wait, you can book an appointment with your GP. however, you may still have to wait a few days for your appointment, depending on how busy the clinic is.
When you show up for your appointment, go to the front desk to let them know you’re there and provide your appointment card if you have one. They will refer you to your doctor, who will review you and offer a diagnosis or refer you for further treatment.
Your GP may refer you to a consultant or specialist. The NHS will only cover visits to a specialist doctor if you have a referral letter from a GP; otherwise, you must pay the costs of the specialist yourself.
nhs number for international students
after registering with the nhs, you will receive an nhs number. Each NHS number is unique to one person and allows medical providers to track and access your health records. You do not need this number to book a doctor’s appointment or to access nhs services, it is simply for identification and record keeping.
If you need it, you can find prescriptions from your doctor, lab results, appointment letters or through the nhs website.
is dental care covered by the nhs?
International students are generally not eligible for free dental treatment under the NHS. however, most procedures are preventative and very affordable. There are three payment bands for dental care in the UK:
You only pay once, even if the treatment requires more than one trip within two months.
Only minors (under the age of 18), inpatients, pregnant women, or women who have had a baby in the last 12 months are eligible for free dental care.
Are prescription drugs covered by the nhs?
As an international student, you generally have to pay for any prescription medication, unless you fall into one of the exemption categories:
Currently, a prescription charge under the nhs is £9.35 per item. If you get a prepaid prescription certificate (PPC), you could save on some prescription costs. there are two ppcs: