Expatriate health insurance in the United Kingdom

Destination United Kingdom
>Unlimited access to the private sector
>Coverage extended to France and the world
>Free of NHS constraints
>Guaranteed best rate

Discover our guide to expat health insurance in the UK

Expatriates are eligible for free medical care provided by the NHS. While effective for dealing with serious emergencies, it has many shortcomings that make the United Kingdom the second most expensive country in Europe for health care. Expat health insurance is the solution if you want to enjoy quick, easy access to the physicians and medical facilities of your choice, receive reimbursements tailored to the high fees, and retain the possibility of being treated in another country if you wish.


Key figures for health insurance
in the UK

Key figures for health insurance in the UK
Health care expenditure per capita €3445
Annual indexing of health care expenses 4,3%
CFE hospitalization reimbursement rate 19%
Number of insurance companies providing services 15
Cost of hospital coverage for people 30 years old/year €792
Cost of hospital coverage for people 50 years old/year €1260

The English health care system for expats

Private insurance is a must!

The English health care system, while often criticized, has some positive aspects, the main one being that public health care (NHS) is free.

This system is open to all residents, which of course includes expatriates living in the UK. However, it has many drawbacks, such as delayed access to certain types of care, a very inconsistent quality of care and a total lack of freedom of choice of practitioners (imposed network).

To get around these issues, many expatriates choose to take out private insurance policies.

In terms of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), Brexit may jeopardize local health care coverage for stays of less than 3 months. Travel insurance could be strongly recommended, depending on the final decisions that are made.

General health conditions

The overall health conditions in Great Britain are good, although the general population is no longer satisfied with the health care system. Investments are insufficient, which prevents a better quality of public health services.

Primary care is provided by GPs or General Practitioners who have received excellent training and are also well equipped. However, specialists are hard to find within the NHS, especially in the field of pediatrics, which leads to fairly long wait times for first appointments.

Price of local care

Private care is more expensive than public care. A private consultation can range from £75 (€95) to £250 (€315). The same is true for specialists.

With a European Health Insurance Card, EU citizens can benefit from free health care from all general practitioners and National Health Service (NHS) hospitals during the first three months of their stay.

WARNING: EHIC provisions are subject to change due to Brexit!

The fixed price for medication on the NHS list is approximately £6.10 (€8.72) per medication prescribed. However, if you pay a flat rate of £7.65 (€8.87) per prescription and use the NHS, any medication prescribed by a GP will be reimbursed.

How to choose a physician

Every patient has the right to choose their own physician, specialist and care center. However, it is advisable to go to a GP or clinic in your neighborhood and register as a patient once you have a fixed address.

To register, you’ll need to fill out a GMS1 form with your complete contact information and personal details, and provide proof of your identity. Your file will then be sent to the Primary Care Trust (PCT), which will send you a confirmation and return your file to your GP or clinic. If you are not yet registered at the time of your first consultation, you will be considered a private client, and the visit will not be covered or reimbursed.

A list of GPs and other practitioners is available on the consulate website. You can also view the list of GPs at the post office, local libraries or the Local Health Authority.

Quality of care in the public sector

Even though the public sector has improved a lot since the 1990s, wait times are often long due to a lack of sufficient medical staff, especially doctors and nurses.

All hospitalizations and specialist consultations must be ordered by a general practitioner (GP). The average wait time for hospitalization is under 6 weeks, and depends on the urgency and seriousness of the case.

While the wait time is a downside, the personnel in the public sector are just as competent as in the private sector. Some public practitioners also work in private facilities, where they can be seen without the wait.

Quality of care in the private sector

If a patient is seeking a greater level of comfort, special arrangements can be made, even in public facilities, for a higher fee.

The quality of care in the private sector is excellent, but very expensive. That’s why the right health coverage is so important if you want to be appropriately reimbursed for your health care costs.

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Social Security in the United Kingdom

Social Security

Payments are deducted from your salary monthly. In order for these deductions to be deposited into your social security account in the UK, you’ll need to register with your local office. To register, fill out Form P46, which is available at your nearest Department of Social Security or Benefit Agency.

The local social security system covers sickness and maternity, old age, disability and survivors, work-related injuries and illnesses, unemployment and family benefits. Some risks are covered for all residents, others are covered for those who are working.

It will give you access the NHS health care network throughout your stay in the United Kingdom. However, for access to the private sector you will need to have private insurance.

French Social Security coverage

Only seconded employees are covered by French Social Security during their time in the UK. For more information, please refer to the "What is an expatriate" section.

Besides the French system, European coverage can be a good temporary solution. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is valid for up to 1 year, and provides access to NHS care. Warning: These provisions are likely to change in the future due to Brexit.

CFE coverage for EU citizens

While CFE coverage functions throughout the country for EU citizens, it isn’t sufficient to cover private sector health expenses in Great Britain, where rates are very high.

Expatriates must take out supplementary insurance.
For those who plan to return to their country of origin within 2 to 4 years, the CFE offers the advantage of transitioning automatically to your own health insurance upon your return.

If you choose this option, you must subscribe within the three months prior to your departure date. If you delay, you may be penalized with a waiting period.


Choosing an expatriate health care insurance in the UK

Why subscribe?

For open access to the nation’s expensive private sector health care.

Expat health insurance is more or less required for access to certain hospitals and specialists.

When and how should you subscribe?

Apply around 30 days before your departure, since the procedure for taking out expatriate coverage is more complicated than for traditional insurance.

Use our website to compare coverage and get price quotes online.

Then one of our advisors can help you through the whole subscription process.

What kind of coverage should you choose?

If you are on a tight budget, just choose an economy level insurance that covers the absolute minimum: hospitalization and medical expenses.

If your budget allows it, after considering the rates usually charged, choose a deluxe package or one with extra features. You might consider a plan with a 10% or 20% deductible, or a fixed annual deductible, in order to lower the premium.

For more information, compare global health care insurance offers online.

Will you have to pay in advance?

General practitioner consultations are free in England with any doctor that has been approved by the National Health Service (NHS). In such cases, you won’t have to pay in advance. However, consultations with non-accredited doctors are not covered.

In terms of hospitalization, there is no charge for NHS hospital stays.

When it comes to medicine, the insured must pay a flat fee of £7.65 for each prescribed medication, not including medication administered during a consultation.

When it comes to dental care, there are 3 levels of fixed fees, ranging from £17 to £209. As a general rule, people under 19 or over 60 years of age are exempt from medical fees.

In the private sector, you will have to pay for your care yourself, then request reimbursement from your insurer. For hospitalization, the insurer should be able to pay the cost directly.

Dental and vision expenses

Within the NHS, dental care varies between 16 GBP and 198 GBP, depending on the nature of the care. Patients pay 80% of the amount, up to a maximum of 360 GBP.

Ophthalmological exams and glasses are charged at a flat rate of 19.32 GBP. However, students under 19 years of age, patients with severe vision problems, and those in financial difficulty may qualify for free or reduced rate services.

These types of coverage are often optional add-ons in expatriate insurance plans. They can be useful, but given their cost they are not essential.

Repatriation assistance

The level of care available locally makes repatriation insurance unnecessary.

All medical issues can be treated quickly on site, as long as you have access to private care.

You may choose to take out repatriation assistance for additional comfort.

Supplementary insurance


Unless your status requires your employer to make contributions to a pension fund, you will need to take out a capital-funded pension plan.

Disability and life Insurance

If your employer doesn’t provide disability insurance, you will need to take out your own disability insurance to continue receiving income in the event of a work stoppage or disability.

There is also no coverage in case of death, so you’ll also need to take out coverage to protect your spouse and children.

You can purchase coverage via private insurance, or choose one of the CFE policies.

Dread disease coverage

This type of coverage doesn’t exist in France, but is widespread in the United Kingdom. It provides payment of a capital or lump sum upon diagnosis of a serious or critical illness (cancer, heart attack, MS, etc.).

This capital is then used to pay the expenses that come with a disability or the cost of complex treatments, which are far too expensive for regular health insurance to cover.


Auto insurance is mandatory throughout the UK, and there are financial and criminal penalties for those who do not comply. If an accident occurs, the fines can be very expensive. Three types of insurance are available:

-Third Party Insurance covers claims for any damage your car causes to others (people or vehicles). It is the minimum required by law.

-Third Party, Fire & Theft Insurance (TPF&T) covers loss or damage due to theft or fire, in addition to the above.

-Comprehensive is the most complete type of auto insurance. It covers damage to your vehicle, accidents and the cost of health care in the event of a collision. It is the equivalent of an All Risk plan.

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