London: Foreigners including Indians who visit Britain for more than six months could be charged hundreds of pounds a year to access the publicly funded healthcare system costing the exchequer up to 200 million pounds.
The proposal due to be unveiled is aimed at ensuring migrants "contribute towards the cost of their healthcare" under the National Health Service, health officials said here.
The plan will look at introducing a levy on any student or foreign worker who comes to the United Kingdom for more than half a year.
The fee, which is likely to be around 200 pounds a year, will be an addition to the visa charge, officials said.
The cost will "ensure that migrants contribute towards the cost of their healthcare whilst not increasing red tape and administration for NHS professionals," a Department of Health spokesman said.
The plan is likely to be announced in a government consultation as part of a raft of changes to immigration laws.
Health Secretary Jermy Hunt said, "We need to ensure that those residing or visiting the UK are contributing to the system in the same way as British taxpayers, and ensure we do as much as possible to target illegal migration.
"We have been clear that we are a national health service not an international health service and I am determined to wipe out abuse in the system.
According to BBC, the government believes some people come to the UK to take advantage of the system and it plans to carry out an audit to determine the extent of the problem.
"The NHS is a national treasure and we need to work with the entire health system to develop plans and make sure it is sustainable for years to come", Hunt added.
Besides charging for Healthcare services, the plan will also include stopping free GP access to short term visitors.
The proposal aims at non EU nationals only.
The NHS bill for treating tourists is estimated to be up to 200 million pounds.
First Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013, 17:38