Comprehensive Sickness Insurance
Comprehensive sickness insurance is a type of insurance which provides for any medical problems you may have while you’re in the UK. This means that any medical care you receive is paid for by your insurance company, not by the National Health Service (NHS).
Students from certain countries may also be required to obtain this kind of insurance before they come to the UK because they will be eligible to work. For example, students from Romania and Bulgaria need to arrange comprehensive sickness insurance when applying for a Yellow Card. Anyone who is financially self-sufficient needs this kind of medical insurance, and if you have children, you’ll need to make sure they are covered as well.
Who provides this kind of insurance?
Many different types of medical insurance policies are available, each with their own particular policy provisions. Although it’s hard to define comprehensive sickness insurance, the general requirement is that all medical eventualities are covered – including in-patient and out-patient treatments.
There are many private health insurance companies to choose from, and the one you pick will largely depend on your own needs, the policy terms and conditions, your budget and any pre-existing conditions you may have.
What happens if I don’t arrange comprehensive sickness insurance?
You will need to obtain some kind of comprehensive cover before any application for naturalisation can be approved by the UK Border Agency. Failure to arrange comprehensive sickness insurance before you move can result in your application to live in the UK being refused or delayed.
Note that some providers will happily sell you a budget insurance policy, but this is not likely to be sufficient for immigration purposes.
Who doesn’t need to buy comprehensive sickness insurance?
Regardless of your residency status, you will always receive A&E (Emergency Room) treatment, family planning services, psychiatric services and some infectious disease free of charge. Also, anyone who is lawfully UK-resident is entitled to healthcare without fees under the NHS. Hospitals can determine your residency status and charge you if they do not agree that you are UK-resident.
Even if you have paid tax in the UK for a certain period of time, you are not necessarily entitled to receive NHS care and you will need to arrange comprehensive sickness insurance to cover yourself.