Update on health charges

Still human still hereThe Department of Health met with a range of agencies on 12 February to update and discuss the implementation of the charging regime for overseas visitors (a note of key points from the meeting is attached).  The Dept of Health is moving forward with Phases 1-3 of the programme: improving cost recovery from the current charging system, improving identification of those who are eligible/exempt from charging, and implementing the migrant surcharge (the surcharge will come into force on 6 April at a cost of £200 to migrants and £150 to students). The extension of charging to primary and A&E care (phase 4) has been de-prioritised in order to focus on phases 1-3. Any extension of charging to these areas will be subject to a further consultation, which is not likely to take place before the Autumn of 2015. 

The Department of Health has announced that the exemptions from the current charging regime will be extended to include 
– services provided as a consequence of violence to those who have been subject to torture, female genital mutilation or domestic violence and sexual violence. 
– local authority supported refused asylum seekers and not just those supported by the Home Office 
– children who are looked after by a local authority as well as those in local authority care (which is a group and includes children voluntarily accommodated or who are unaccompanied) 
– individuals detained under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 or subject to court order treatment (as well as those detained or taken into guardianship or subject to a community treatment order under the Mental Health Act 1983 or a Court Order). 

Ministers decided not to include pregnant women and children within the list of vulnerable groups who are exempt from charging. The Dept of Health said that they will look at the impact of the charges on children. 

In addition, the Dept of Health announced that new regulations will be introduced so that those who were charged for treatment and later recognised as refugee and those who the Competent Authority suspect or conclude are victims of human trafficking will have those charges cancelled (or refunded where paid)