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Healthcare in UK – Free For Everyone?

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UK healthcare. Picture Credit: Pixabay

The UK has the best healthcare policies compared to other industrialized countries. It is at the top slot in the year 2015, in the list of best healthcare services, for its excellent quality of care and safe methods employed. According to research done by the Commonwealth Fund group, Britain spends relatively much less on healthcare compared to the United States.

Read to find out just who is eligible for the world-class free healthcare in this nation.

Universal healthcare – UK healthcare

The UK has National Health Service program (NHS), which enables all residents to get free healthcare for most of the hospital services excluding dental, eye and medical prescriptions. The services for which a fee is levied are priced nominally, so that everyone can literally afford healthcare in this wonderful country. Some people are even exempted from the bills if they fall under certain categories like children under 16, pregnant women, and low income earners.

The coverage is truly universal and anyone who is considered ordinarily resident of the UK is eligible for NHS. This remarkable service is provided on need basis and does not depend on the patient’s ability to pay for the services rendered. Even pre-existing health conditions are covered by NHS. This service is divided into two sections, primary and secondary care.


National Health Service

Foreign nationals are also covered in the healthcare program once the length (usually at least 6 months) and purpose of their stay (should be lawful) in the country meets certain criteria. The first thing to do after moving to this country is to register with the local General Practitioner (GP) and get the NHS number. This number is needed for your GP to provide medical advice to you in the future.

The NHS program depends on the funds available through general taxation and National Insurance contributions. NHS in turn provides free or low-cost services to the residents of the UK. Even the overseas visitors are eligible for free emergency services and treatment for certain communicable diseases like cholera and tuberculosis. But they need to pay for in-patient services.


Care and support

The National Health Service started operating in July, 1948 and has helped countless people in their sickness all these years through its free or nominal cost healthcare. NHS also provides social care and support for those who meet the eligibility criteria. And the great thing about this program is that, it is even funded partially or fully by the government, if the patient has certain special care needs due to particular illnesses, old age or disability. Everyone is eligible to avail social care services.

Social care service is not just care provided by trained personnel at home, but includes care given at retirement homes, care homes and even care given to certain patients exclusively for community events. These services largely depend on charity of the society. Even the care-givers are taken care of in this program.


Large scale

NHS employs a whopping 1.5 million people, making it one of the largest employers in the world. Of this employee’s strength, about half of the healthcare workers are clinically qualified. The NHS is estimated to be serving at least eight people per second on average. Direct walk-in centers and phone services are also handled by NHS to help people with quick health information and medicine. And these services are accessible to everyone without the need for an appointment, throughout the year.


Private medical care

Apart from the government-run NHS, private hospitals also provide healthcare for specific health conditions. The private hospital needs to be paid for its services through private voluntary health insurance taken by the patient.

The private sector’s impact is relatively small in the country’s healthcare and is used mainly as a top up, by the affluent residents of the country in addition to the basic healthcare provided by the nation. If you are planning to visit the United Kingdom for a short period, it is advisable to take a good private insurance to stay on the safer side.

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