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Healthcare in the UK

Learn about the healthcare system in the UK

From a trip the market to a day at the beach, studying abroad brings with it a whole host insights on how countries differ from one another. Health care in the UK is a prime example of exactly this kind of subtle but importance difference. Though truly world class in terms of quality and care - the World Health Organization itself ranked it in the top 10% of all nations in a 2000 report - what makes the health care system in the UK unique is the tax-payer supported National Health Service. While many international students often find out that that the UK’s health care system functions quite differently only when the most need it, proper planning - and this overview - should help you prepare for the unexpected.

The National Health Service

As we alluded above, though health insurance does exist, health care in the UK is by and large dominated by a public health service known as the National Health Service. Because the United Kingdom is comprised of four distinct nations (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) the NHS technically refers to four distinct health systems that operate independently from one another but in general practice all four are collectively referred to by users as "the NHS." Established simultaneously in 1948, today the NHS - as we will collectively refer to it ourselves - provides healthcare to all permanent residents of the United Kingdom that is free at the point of use and paid for from general taxation.

All UK citizens and permanent residents are eligible to receive benefits from the NHS as are any international students possessing a Tier 4 (General) visa holders and pursuing a course of study in the UK for more than six months or studying on a course of any duration that is substantially funded by the UK Government.

At the same time, a series of reciprocal agreements ensures that citizens who fall under the following categories are entitled to medical treatment in the UK - they include:

  1. Part of the European Economic Area, or
  2. Switzerland, or
  3. Covered by a bilateral treaty - a full list can be found online here.

Accessing and Using the National Health Service

If you are entitled to use the National Health Service you must first register with a general practitioner, or GPs as they are known, in you area to get a NHS card. The NHS card and indeed general practitioners themselves are the gateways to the NHS system. Not only are GPs the key to getting a NHS card, only medical care provided for or referred by a GP will be covered. That is because NHS registrations entitles you to free consultation with your GP as well as free hospital treatment in your GP recommends its. Should a medical issue arise that requires a specialist’s advice, the GP will refer you to the appropriate specialist.

NHS card holders are also entitled to free contraceptive and maternity service and, of course, all legal residents are entitled to free treatment in the event of an emergency at walk-in clinics and emergency rooms.

Note that all medical costs are covered by the NHS. Though low, the cost of most prescriptions, corrective lenses, and dental treatments is still borne by the patient.

We offer the following plans to students who are planning to travel, study or visit the UK:

Europe Travel Atlas Travel Student Secure
Policy MaximumPolicy Max. €40,000 to €6 Million $50,000 to $2 Million $200,000 to $5,000,000 max$200k to $5M max
DeductibleDed. €0 up to €2,000 $0 up to $5,000 $25 up to $100
Currency € Euro priced $ USD priced $ USD priced
Premium Starting at €0.54/ day Starting at $0.85/ day Starting at $0.85/ day

Best Insurance Plans for the UK

We have a range of insurance plans, however for students studying in the UK the best insurance options are: