London: Indian migrants and students who plan to stay beyond six months in the UK will face an additional health surcharge of upto 200 pounds from early next month.
The new fee applies to all nationals from outside the European Economic Area from April 6, who plan to migrate to Britain for longer periods of time.
The changes, however, will not affect those coming to the UK on a standard tourist visa as they will continue paying for their treatments at the time of being treated.
The surcharge, which is aimed at boosting the coffers of the taxpayer-funded National Health Service (NHS), is set at 200 pounds (USD 296) per year and 150 pounds (USD 221) per year for students. It will be payable at the time of applying for visa.
Visa applicants will need to pay up-front for the total period of their UK visa.
"The health surcharge will play a vital role in ensuring Britain's most cherished public service which is provided on a basis that is fair to all who use it. For generations, the British public have paid their taxes to help make the NHS what it is today, the surcharge will mean temporary migrants will also pay their way," UK immigration and security minister James Brokenshire said.
According to the UK government, the surcharge levels have been set after considering the wide range of free health services available to migrants coming to live in the UK, alongside the valuable contribution they make to the economy.
"And by keeping the surcharge at a competitive level, we are also recognising the contribution temporary migrants make to the wider economy," the minister noted.
Those coming to the UK on an intra-company transfer (Tier 2 visa) will be exempted from the charges but must complete the process through the surcharge website.
"The surcharge levels are lower than the cost of medical insurance required in some of our competitor nations and, for overseas students, the surcharge represents only 1 per cent of the total cost of studying in the UK for a three-year undergraduate course," a UK government statement said.
International students cost the NHS around 430 million pounds per year and over 700 pounds per head, it said.
The surcharge for students will be just 150 pounds per year, a fraction of their true cost to the NHS. It is one per cent of the cost of studying in the UK and is well below the price students pay for private health insurance in competitor countries, such as Australia and the US, it said.
Certain vulnerable groups, including children in care and asylum and human trafficking related cases, will be exempted from the surcharge and will continue to receive free NHS care.