NHS and Health Tourists, your views

  bumpkin 21:17 20 May 2018

Apparently the NHS are to introduce upfront payments for use of their services by health tourists many of whom have failed to pay under the present system. Something I agree with but is it feasible to enforce.

  john bunyan 21:36 20 May 2018

Why not? If you go to a Spire Hospital the first thing they want is a credit card. Same in many countries. It should be a routine part of any admission- proof of NHS entitlement or advance or guaranteed payment. No need for a doctor to be involved

  mole44 04:58 21 May 2018

Make it compulsory for whoever is the carrier of the person to the UK to check that they have the insurance as per passport/visa/ticket.No insurance no travel and if they do get through then make the carrier responsible for all costs uncured,simple realy

  mikef. 09:01 21 May 2018

We have to do this abroad so why shouldn't the NHS do the same

  LastChip 09:14 21 May 2018

Absolutely right. No money - no treatment. Try and get away without paying in America and see how far you get.

  Cymro. 10:36 21 May 2018

So you have someone lying in the gutter with half his leg cut off due to whatever do you ask for his details before or after you have stopped the bleeding?

  Pine Man 10:57 21 May 2018

Try and get away without paying in America and see how far you get.

It's not quite that bad if it's an emergency as the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act guarantees a person's right to receive emergency treatment, regardless of if they can pay or not. It basically says that if you need emergency medicine, you must be treated at any emergency room, to the best of the staff's ability, until you're in stable condition for transfer. Then you'll really get stung!!

  Cymro. 11:40 21 May 2018

bumpkyn ends his post with Something I agree with but is it feasible to enforce.

Yes I must admit something must be done but what? In an emergency no doctor can just leave a patient because the doctor doesn't know if the patient has the means to pay the bill. Even asking to be shown a bank card or proof of medical insurance can take too much time in a life or death situation. So surely the patient must be seen to first at least as far as making sure he is not exactly at death's door. What I suspect happens now is that the patient is seen to first and the bill sent on after him latter by someone in admin. The last thing the doctor wants or needs to worry about is how is the bill to be paid. The doctor has more than enough on his hands dealing with the patient. So yes I do agree with bumpkyn but like him I have my doubts about how do we enforce payment.

  bumpkin 14:57 21 May 2018

Apologies, I meant to say excluding emergencies in my original post. I was reffering to things like childbirth or existing medical conditions where the purpose of the visit is to obtain free treatment. I doubt if anyone would come to hoping to require emergency treatment.

  bumpkin 15:04 21 May 2018

octal, your link illustrates all too well one of the problems with our NHS.

  Forum Editor 18:28 21 May 2018

It has been estimated that the annual cost to the NHS of what is called 'normal' use of the system by foreign visitors is around £1.8 billion per year. The definition of 'normal' use is that the patients do not deliberately come here for free medical treatment - they are here anyway, and need unforeseen treatment during their stay.

Of that figure, the NHS reckons that about £500 million would be recoverable, if proper mechanisms were in place.

The estimated cost to the NHS of deliberate health tourism - people who come here with the specific intention of getting free medical treatment is estimated at anywhere between £110 million and £280 million. It's a relatively small amount in the context of total NHS funding by the taxpayer; that figure is currently around £117 billion.

I think I'm right in saying (I stand to be corrected) that Emergency treatment is provided free to anyone who presents at an A&E department, and that's as it should be, regardless of whether or not the costs can be recovered subsequently. In my view, People who come here with the express purpose of getting expensive eye surgery, or a hip replacement etc., should be made to pay for it, or be refused treatment.

The problem, of course, comes in separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

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