Author Topic: Health insurance/NHS  (Read 751 times)

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Offline Ninastar

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Health insurance/NHS
« on: November 07, 2016, 11:09:12 AM »
I'm here on a Spousal Visa since February 2015. I have been paying my US health premiums and seeing doctors on visits to US since then but am determined now to figure out how to use the medical system here in the U.K.

I did see a GP here last winter but she said she could do no lab work because it was all "through NHS". I paid for my office visit and prescription. I don't think this means I am "enrolled". I have no NHS or NIN number. The office was unable to help with my understanding of the system.

BUPA has been recommended to me but we are in rural Northern England and there are no local BUPA hospitals.

Has anyone had a positive experience with any of the available expat health insurance policies?

Can (should) I go to the JobCentre and apply for NHS number?

Thank you!

Offline KFdancer

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Re: Health insurance/NHS
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2016, 11:15:26 AM »
Job center issues National Insurance Numbers which are like Social Security numbers which are used for tax purposes only.  Don't confuse that with an NHS number.  Very easily done though!

You are 100% allowed to use the NHS on your spouse visa.  You need to register with a local GP and you'll likely need to take your passport with visa into the office to verify you are a resident of the UK.

Learning to navigate the NHS is a bit of a learning curve.  The GP is the gateway for everything.  You need referrals for anything and everything except basic care.  But once you learn your way, you should be fine.  Private insurance can help "jump the queue" if you have a referral with a long wait time.  Hopefully your spouse can provide guidance on their experiences.

Offline Ninastar

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Re: Health insurance/NHS
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2016, 10:45:39 PM »
Thank you for response.
Is the GP office supposed to assist me in getting NHS number?
Is it spelled out clearly somewhere that I am eligible? All it says on my visa is "No recourse to public funds".

Thanks again for your help...this forum is really the best resource I can find!

Offline ksand24

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Re: Health insurance/NHS
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2016, 10:55:19 PM »
You will be automatically assigned an NHS number when you register with the GP - it's just a unique number assigned to you in the NHS system so they can access your medical records easily (British citizens born in the UK are assigned one at birth when their details are registered in the NHS system).

The only restriction on your visa is no public funds and the NHS is not a public fund.

See here for more information, under the 'Visas Applied for before April 2015' section:
http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices/uk-visitors/moving-to-england/Pages/moving-from-outside-the-eea.aspx

And a list of what is considered public funds:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/public-funds--2/public-funds


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Offline Ninastar

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Re: Health insurance/NHS
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2016, 09:50:07 AM »
many thanks! :)

Offline BertineC

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Re: Health insurance/NHS
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2016, 10:10:35 AM »
Ive been here almost three years and only just started learning the NHS system :/

Registration at the GP should be painless - I took my passport, visa proof, and two proofs of address (they really wanted bank statement and something like power bill or council tax) and filled out a questionnaire and in 15 minutes I was sorted. I think I still had an old number from when I last lived here in 1999, though.

In the last few weeks I have had to go to the doctor due to a back problem. I have called twice for an emergency appt and gotten in same day both times, although for really a 5 minute chat with stressed doctor. I also made and kept another appt. He put through a referral for an MRI for me first thing, which was arranged separately the next day (but for a date 3 weeks later). I missed the appointment as my back got worse and I couldnt actually lie flat, but rescheduling was easy, although another two week wait.

To me it seems like it works like a well-oiled machine, but expect the amount of doctor time to be reduced. The GP is almost like a triage person to sort folks out into the different paths and specialties. Also, I didnt realize that they can do phone consults here, so I could have arranged one of those instead for some stronger/different pain meds rather than going in and then the office can call in the prescription.

It seems really intimidating and overwhelming if you are used to the US system, but so far it has worked ok for me. I will admit that I was apprehensive too about signing up, but thankful I did when I did!