Paying for A&E on holiday in the UK?
By Ryan Morrison
The UK wants to end the Health Agreement with Jersey. We find out what this would mean for islanders…
It's probably one of your worst nightmares, and for some it even becomes a reality.
You're on holiday over in the UK and you have an accident or you fall ill.
Perhaps one of the only comforts is the Reciprocal Health Agreement between Jersey and the United Kingdom, which has been in place for more than 40 years.
It means you can be covered by health programmes back here in the island and so won’t have to pay for treatment at a UK hospital.
But, now that is set to come to an end on 31 March 2009. This means that from 1 April most people from Jersey, who visit the UK, whether for business or personal reasons, will have to pay if they need healthcare.
On 14 January 2009, the Right Honourable Dawn Primarolo MP, the Minister of State for the Department of Health, wrote to Jersey’s Chief Minister confirming the UK’s intention to withdraw from the Reciprocal Health Agreement on 31 March 2009.
The decision was taken by the UK Government to end the Reciprocal Health Agreement with Jersey as it was felt the paying any health related charges to Jersey only benefits a small number of UK residents and doesn't represent value for money for the UK tax payer.
We have a list of frequently asked questions compiled by the States of Jersey that explain some of how this will work below:
TREATMENT IN THE UK FOR JERSEY RESIDENTS
Q: I’ve been referred for a heart operation in London; will I now have to pay for it?
A: No, these changes will not affect people who are referred for treatment in the UK when what they need is not available in Jersey. Specialist treatment is already paid for by the Health & Social Services Department and this will continue.
Q: My son goes to University in the UK this summer; will he need medical insurance cover?
A: No, full-time Jersey students at universities or colleges in the UK, who are able to prove that their course lasts more than six months, will not have to pay.
Q: If I have to go the Accident & Emergency Department whilst visiting the UK, will I have to pay?
A: No, everyone will still be treated in an A&E Department (or receive similar care in a walk-in centre) without being charged and immediately necessary treatment given by a GP will also be free.
Q: You say A&E treatment is free but what about transport by ambulance?
A: Transport by the ambulance will still be free.
Q: I live in Jersey but work for a UK company. Sometimes I have to go to the UK to work. Will I have to pay if I fall ill while in the UK?
A: No, Jersey residents who are able to prove that that they are working in the UK for a UK employer will not have to pay for healthcare.
Q: I work for a Jersey company but travel often to the UK on business. Will I have to pay if I fall ill while in the UK?
A: If you do not have insurance cover, then you will ahve to pay. You should discuss this issue with your employer.
Q: I run a locally-based company and my staff often travel to the UK on business – will I need to buy travel insurance for them?
A: It depends on the terms and conditions of their employment but it would be advisable to buy insurance.
Q: I am a pensioner and live in Jersey but I grew up in the UK and have a UK pension. Will I have to pay for treatment if I visit my family in the UK?
A: No, if you receive a UK state pension holders you won't have to pay for health treatment while visiting the UK as long as long as you can prove that you have lived in the UK for 10 continuous years or more at some point in the past.
Q: I’ve been living in Jersey for 18 years but was born in the UK and lived there for 20 years. If I need hospital treatment when I go back to the UK to see my family, will I have to pay?
A: Yes, the National Health Service provides healthcare for people who live in the United Kingdom. If you don't normally live there you are not automatically entitled to use the NHS free of charge – regardless of your nationality or whether you hold a British passport or have lived and paid National Insurance contributions and taxes in the UK in the past. You should consider getting travel insurance before you visit the UK.
Q: I’m only working in Jersey for a few years, do I have to pay to be treated in the UK?
A: if you live in Jersey but can prove that you have lived in the UK for 10 years and are spending no more than five years working outside the UK, you won't have to pay. However, you will need to provide evidence that you're entitled to claim an exemption from charges. This may include, for example, documents that demonstrate 10 years residence in the UK and evidence of working in Jersey for less than five years.
TRAVEL TO GUERNSEY AND ISLE OF MAN
Q: What about travelling to the Isle of Man?
A: The possibility of a separate reciprocal health agreement has been discussed between officials from Jersey and the Isle of Man, so that Jersey visitors to the Isle of Man would be treated as if they were residents of the Isle of Man and only charged for services that Manx residents normally pay. This would also allow Manx visitors to Jersey to be treated as if they were locals.
Q: What about travelling to Guernsey?
A: Jersey already has a reciprocal health agreement with Guernsey.
UK RESIDENTS VISITING JERSEY
Q: My daughter grew up in Jersey and has been coming back home with my grandchildren every year for a holiday, will she now need heath insurance?
A: Yes. All visitors from the UK to Jersey (including family members who no longer reside in Jersey) will have to pay for health treatment in the same way as Jersey visitors to the UK. The UK Government will be advising ALL visitors to Jersey to ensure they have appropriate insurance arrangements.
Q: Will my friends and family need health insurance to come to Jersey on holiday?
A: It is highly advised that they obtain suitable health insurance for their visit.
Q: Does the UK's E111 card cover people coming here on holiday - like it does in EU?
A: No, the E111 cards allow urgent and necessary treatment for UK residents and residents of other EU member states only within the EU; this does not apply to Jersey.
Q: Will I need travel insurance to go to UK on holiday?
A: It is advisable.
Q: What if I have already booked a holiday to the UK – do I still have to get travel insurance?
A: If you want to be covered – yes.
Q: Will I need health insurance if I am working temporarily in UK?
A: It depends on your employment arrangements, but if you are in any doubt, it is advisable to take out adequate health insurance to cover the period you are working.
Q: I have private health insurance – will this cover me in the UK for accidents/unexpected illness?
A: You need to check your policy as they are all different and you may not be covered.
Q: If I break my leg in UK, will I have to show insurance documents before they agree to treat me like in the USA?
A: It will depend on the circumstance and the situation but it is advisable to have your policy details available at all times. Alternatively, you may have to pay and then claim the amount from your insurance policy with evidence of the payments made.
Q: I’m over 65 so won't travel insurance be very expensive?
A: The cost of travel insurance is unique to each and every applicant. The more health complications you have then the more expensive your health insurance will probably be. If you feel it is too expensive you will have to consider the risk of falling ill in the UK and how you would then pay for the associated costs of your treatment.
Q: If I already have annual travel insurance do I need as high a level of cover as I would for other international destinations?
A: Anyone travelling to the UK should check that they are covered for the appropriate level of insurance. While this is a personal choice, it is advised that you make sure you are covered for repatriation as this is often the most expensive element of any charges that may be incurred.
Q: Is there any implication/difference if I get to the UK via another country (e.g. returning from holiday through Heathrow)
A: No, you will always be identified as a non UK resident and will have to pay for any health related charges.
Q: What about if I need a prescription while I'm there or as a result of treatment?
A: If you require a prescription, you will pay the same amount as UK residents.
If you have any further questions or need more advice, email the Health and Social Services Department or call the States of Jersey Customer Services Centre on 01534 445500.
last updated: 03/03/2009 at 14:04
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