Health Insurance For International Students In UK

Dr Mohammad Shafiq

Health Insurance For International Students In UK

Health Insurance For International Students In UK

Health insurance abroad covers medical emergencies, illness, and treatments for international students. It can protect students from unexpected, high medical costs while studying abroad. Plus, students will get some free preventive care, such as check-ups, screenings, vaccines, etc. But do you have any idea about the health insurance for international students in UK? This article will cover the topic.

Understanding the UK Healthcare System

Overview of the National Health Service (NHS)

National Health Service (NHS) is a publicly funded healthcare system in the UK that is available for everyone. This comprehensive public health service provider gives a wide range of medical services:

  • Dental, optical, and mental health services
  • Maternity services
  • Contraception and sexual health services
  • Minor injuries treatment
  • Treatment with a Specialist or Consultant

Eligibility for Healthcare Services in the UK

If you are legally living, studying, or working in the UK, you are entitled to free NHS healthcare. It does not matter whether you are a British citizen or not. However, paying an immigration health surcharge is necessary for non-British citizens. Full-time international students staying in the UK for more than 6 months are eligible to get free healthcare services in the UK.

Differences between NHS Services and Private Healthcare

  • The waiting time for NHS is a bit longer than for a private healthcare service. You may have to wait several days to several weeks to get national health services.
  • Private healthcare offers more comfortable and modern services than NHS because they have the latest medical infrastructure, equipment, and technologies. 
  • National healthcare services have more restrictions around visiting hours than private healthcare.
  • Both NHS services and Private healthcare offer some common treatments as well as complex treatments. For instance, the NHS does not offer elective procedures, specialized treatments, cosmetic surgeries, and alternative therapies.
  • Patients may not have access to high-cost, experimental, or emerging drugs from NHS services. They must get them from Private healthcare.
  • You don't need to pay any money to get any medical service from the NHS. However, private healthcare takes full payment for their medical service.

Coverage and Benefits

Coverage and Benefits

Medical Expenses Coverage

International student health care insurance will cover medical services like medicine, doctor visits, and specialist consultations. An international student who wants to live for more than six months in the UK must pay £470 per year as the UK health insurance fee or Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). But if you are staying six months or less, you need to pay only £235 to the United Kingdom.

Hospitalization Coverage

Health insurance provides a wide range of hospitalization under their insurance plans, like special facilities, nursing care, and certain medicines and supplies. Plus, students will have access to the following hospitalization services:

  • Inpatient services: International students will get a wide range of inpatient services under health insurance, such as hospital stays, diagnostic tests, serious illnesses or medical issues, psychiatric illnesses, substance misuse, severe injuries, etc.
  • Surgical Procedures:  Different types of surgical services are available under health insurance, like elective surgeries, emergency surgeries, medically necessary operations, appendectomy, tonsillectomy, orthopedic surgeries, gynecological surgeries, etc.
  • Emergency Room Visits: International student health care insurance in the UK typically covers emergency room visits for acute illnesses, injuries, or severe medical conditions and protects you from unexpected out-of-network bills. The health insurer also can't charge additional premiums for any emergency room visits.

Additional Benefits

  • Mental Health Services: Some health insurers offer a wide range of mental and behavioral health services, such as counseling, therapy, and psychiatric care. This provides comprehensive support for students' mental well-being. However, most health insurance companies don't cover this service. You may need to add it to your policy or choose another plan if it is unavailable.
  • Dental and Vision Care: Some UK health insurances cover dental and vision care, such as routine dental check-ups, cleanings, eye exams, prescription eyeglasses, basic eye care, etc. However, unlike other options, they are not included as a part of a basic health insurance plan. You may have to pay additional money or choose another plan if it is not included.
  • Maternity and Pregnancy: Female international students are entitled to maternity and pregnancy care from the NHS, including prenatal care, delivery, and postpartum care. However, most health insurance companies don't cover these health insurance policies. A few healthcare insurance offer particular benefits based on the circumstances.

Understanding the Policy, Terms, and Conditions

Some specific policies, terms, and conditions outline the coverage scope, exclusions, and guidelines. It also ensures clarity and defines the UK student insurance agreement terms for the insurer and the insured.

  • Deductibles and Co-pays: An international student must pay out of pocket before the insurance covers certain expenses. Besides, the UK health insurance for international students may charge co-pays if you receive services like doctor visits or prescription drugs.
  • Pre-existing Conditions: Some medical conditions might exist before the policy's effective date under the insurance terms and conditions. Depending on the policy terms, coverage for such needs may be limited or excluded.
  • Claims Process and Reimbursement: When an international student incurs medical expenses, he/she must submit proof of medical costs to the insurer. Once the claim gets approved, you will get reimbursement for the repayment of covered expenses.
  • Policy Renewal and Termination: International student healthcare insurance will be allowed to extend coverage, typically annually. Termination may occur from either side. The contract will be terminated if a student fails to pay all the installments of the healthcare insurance and returns to your home country permanently.

Resources for International Students

Resources for International Students

University Support and Guidance

Most UK universities provide international student support and guidance. This expert advice and guidance give them a clear idea of various immigration queries as well as student routes and start-up visa applications. Besides, they will other university supports, like academic counseling, language assistance, cultural integration, etc. This helps them to adjust to the education system, cultural differences, and visa regulations.

National and International Student Associations

There are many national and international student associations in the UK on university campuses to create a supporting community, organize events, and provide resources to enhance the student experience. For instance, the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) offers international students various types of training, guidance, advice, and discussions. The National Union of Students (NUS) aims to improve students' lives and its member students' unions.

Online Resources and Information Portals

International students from the UK can access various online resources and information, access academic materials, stay informed about campus events, and navigate administrative processes efficiently. For instance, UKCISA offers student advice and guidance to make the most of their student's time in the UK. International Student Resource Center offers free resources to help students in various aspects of their student life, such as communications, financial support, etc.

Also Read:

Tips for Choosing the Right Health Insurance

Tips for Choosing the Right Health Insurance

Assessing Personal Healthcare Needs

Before selecting a particular healthcare insurance plan, you must assess your personal healthcare needs. The plan chosen should adequately cover your specific medical requirements. Review the plan thoroughly to figure out whether the particular package fits your health requirements. It helps avoid gaps in coverage, controls costs, and tailors the insurance to individual health priorities.

Comparing Coverage Options and Costs

The coverage area of healthcare insurance will vary among different companies. The common coverage options are given below:

  • Inpatient Services
  • Outpatient Care
  • Mental Health Coverage
  • Maternity Benefits
  • Dental And Vision Care
  • Prescription Drugs

The average monthly and annual health insurance costs for international students in the UK are £86.07 and £1,032.84, respectively. It can be more or less depending on their coverage options. Before choosing a particular health insurance plan, review each option and compare it with other companies to get the best benefits.

Considering Policy Duration and Renewal Options

UK health insurance is available in different durations, ranging from 12 months to 48 months. Choosing a particular insurance plan based on your course duration is best to ensure continuous coverage throughout your stay. It will provide cost savings and long-term stability. However, renewal-based options are better for potential changes in healthcare needs.

Add-on Cover Options

Our healthcare needs may change after a certain period. It is best to choose a healthcare insurance plan with add-on cover options. You won't have to buy another standalone health insurance policy that would be an expensive option, especially for students. You just need to pay a small proportion of money to receive additional health insurance benefits and features.

Cover for Modern Treatment

Most health insurance companies cover almost all traditional-based treatments in their different plans. However, not all UK health insurance covers modern treatments, such as oral chemotherapy, stem cell therapy, robotic surgeries, Immunotherapy, gene therapy, etc. These new-age treatments are highly expensive. Carefully review the health insurance plan to see if it covers such costly treatments.


Different locations in the UK may charge different premiums. Hence, location can be a primary factor influencing the overall risk and cost of providing medical coverage in that area. The cost of health insurance in UK may vary for various factors:

  • Provider Networks
  • Medical Service Prices
  • Availability of Healthcare Facilities
  • Demographic Factors
  • Local Regulations

Tobacco Use

Many health insurance companies in the UK charge higher premiums for those who consume tobacco products. After all, it is associated with major lifestyle risks and expensive treatment, as well as an increased likelihood of claims. They may charge up to 50% extra premiums for tobacco users.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is health insurance in UK for international students?

The average cost of health insurance in UK for students is around £470 per year. But if you are staying six months or less, you need to pay only £235 to the United Kingdom.

How many people in the UK have private health insurance?

According to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), around 6.9 million UK adults have Private Medical Insurance (PMI). But after the Covid-19 outbreak, the number has been rising rapidly. This percentage has increased to 22% from 12%.

Which health insurance is best in the UK?

Bupa, AXA, Aviva, The Exeter, and Vitality are the top five health insurance companies in the UK for international students. One option may appear better than others based on individual needs and situations.

Can I use my European health insurance card in the UK?

International students in an EU country or Switzerland who want to visit or study in the UK for six months or less can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). However, if you stay or study in the UK for over six months, you must have UK-issued health insurance.

Can international students use the NHS for healthcare?

Yes, International students are eligible for free National Health Service (NHS) access even if they stay less than six months in the UK. However, it is necessary to register with a General Practitioner (GP) and get an NHS number. Plus, they must pay the immigrant health surcharge as part of their student visa to access the free service.

What should I do in case of a medical emergency?

If any medical emergency arises, you can call 999 and ask for an ambulance. Visit a hospital Accident and Emergency department and get free medical service.

Can I purchase health insurance after arriving in the UK?

Yes, you can purchase health insurance after arriving in the UK. However, it is advisable to have coverage from the start to ensure immediate access to healthcare services if needed. This will keep you safe and worry-free. 

What happens if I don't have health insurance?

If you don't have health insurance, you may face poor credit or even bankruptcy from a serious accident or a health issue. It is advisable to have health insurance to avoid unexpected expensive treatment.


Health insurance for international students in UK is a must to cover their medical bills, ensure timely access to healthcare, and comply with visa requirements, safeguarding both health and academic pursuits. A lot of health insurance companies are available in the UK. Before choosing a particular one, consider your physical needs and medical conditions. If you want to add extra features in the future, choose a flexible option.

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