It goes without saying that certain cities in the UK, such as London, are very popular for foreigners. It is a destination that attracts people for its cultural difference, or one’s desire to improve English, or simply to embark on a new adventure!
But a shadowy area has been glooming for some time: the Brexit (coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic…). How to relocate to the UK nowadays? How does the local health system work and what are your options in terms of health insurance in UK?
International health insurance: the best option in the UK for expats
There are generally three options for being covered in England and elsewhere in the UK:
- Being covered by the NHS, the public health system that operates throughout the UK – which we’ll cover later.
- Private health insurance, which would act as supplementary health insurance
- Taking out international health insurance as a basic solution to cover your health.
This last option is the ideal one, we’ll explain why!
Private health insurance in United Kingdom, commonly known as private medical insurance (PMI), is a top-up insurance to the public health system NHS. It actually covers you in all the territories of the UK. This type of insurance goes some way towards overcoming the drawbacks of the NHS. It is relatively expensive, but it can reduce waiting times for specialists, for example.
However, the PMI will only cover you in the UK and, as an NHS member, you are still dependent on the UK public health system. It may therefore be suitable for you if you feel you are adequately covered by the NHS and do not intend to travel or relocate outside the UK.
Expatriate health insurance, or international health insurance, allows you to be fully covered in Great Britain, in Europe and even in the rest of the world! You also avoid having to see an NHS GP to visit a specialist doctor, or worry about whether your dental operation will be covered. You choose your level of cover and its price, as your policy is almost entirely customisable.
Benefits that outweigh the disadvantages of the health system
As you can see, international health insurance is the best solution for you as an expatriate in the UK because it fits your lifestyle and your international mobility needs. It allows you to have a broader and more complete health cover than that offered by the NHS.
So what does the NHS cover?
- hospital care
- dental and optical care
- prescription drugs
- consultations with a GP or specialist doctor
All residents are eligible for the NHS and can receive it for no cost. However, an excess may apply for some treatments (such as dental and optical).
The choice of GP from among the registered doctors is free. If the patient consults a private doctor, he/she will of course not be reimbursed. As mentioned above, specialists are often recommended by general practitioners themmselves.
As far as hospitals are concerned, there are those run by the NHS and others independently and privately run and which will charge for treatment.
The main advantage of the NHS is that it is free of charge, however there are some disadvantages typical to public health insurance, such as waiting times, delays in reimbursement and the fact that you have to share a room during hospital stays (the private room is often an expensive optional extra).
Taking out international health insurance allows you to avoid these problems and to have more flexible health cover.
Expatriation and Brexit: the new rules of the game
You have all the cards in your hand to choose the right health insurance solution for you, but what about new requirements for moving to the UK in 2021?
If you intend to live and stay in the UK for several months or years from now, a new points-based immigration system for obtaining a visa has been implemented. It takes 70 points to obtain a visa, and points are added according to the applicant’s qualifications. To obtain the minimum points required, the applicant must
- Be employed in a company approved by the Home Office with the required level of qualification.
- Speak at least B1 English
- Earn a minimum annual salary of £25,600
Those earning less than £20,480 will not earn any points, while those earning between £20,480 and £25,600 will earn a minimum of 20 points. Occupations linked to healthcare will be granted residence more quickly, and research and education occupations will earn more points.
The message from the UK is clear: welcome to immigrants and expatriates. Yes, but in limited numbers and those with higher qualifications.
Do not hesitate to inform yourself about this transition and the new rules it implies, by visiting various English websites and websites specialised in expatriation.
If you would like to know more about our international health insurance for foreigners in the UK or to receive advice from our experts, please contact us via the contact form, or via WhatsApp, Telegram or Signal at this number: +352 621 585 033.