As a student, there are many things you need to think about when it comes to securing your finances, but perhaps one area that can often be forgotten about is insurance, in particular health insurance.
In most instances, students who are registered as UK residents have absolutely no need for additional health insurance. We are very fortunate in this country to have superb government-funded healthcare from the NHS and although students aren’t automatically exempt from certain charges, these charges would not be covered by a health insurance policy anyway.
Before we explore who exactly would benefit from student health insurance, lets firstly take a look at what the NHS can and can’t provide for students.
The list below indicates the general rule for charges the NHS apply towards various medical services and treatments:
- Sight tests
- Glasses/contact lenses
- Dental treatment
- Wigs/fabric supports
- Travel to hospital
Although, students aren’t automatically exempt from these charges, it is highly likely they would be exempt or at least given a discounted rate. Exemptions are based on individual circumstances, but generally follow these guidelines:
UK students under the age of 18, who are in full time education are exempt from pretty much all charges. Students in Wales under the age of 25 have the additional benefit of free dental examinations, although they will be charged for any follow on treatment.
If you receive benefits or tax credits, it is recognised that you would struggle to pay for basic healthcare. As long as you can prove you are receiving benefits or tax credits you will be exempt from prescription charges and other medical charges. Juts remember the specifics may vary depending on what country in the UK you live in.
If you are pregnant or have had a baby in the last 12 months you will be exempt from prescription charges and dental treatment.
One of the most important things to do is to make sure you are registered with a doctor. If you have moved out of home to live and study at university, it is important that you make sure you are registered with a doctor in the local area. Yes, you may well be registered with your family GP in your home town, but what good is that if you now live hundreds of miles away? Transferring GPs is simple, so put it at the very top of your to do list, when you’ve got yourself all moved in and sorted.
So, if we have such a good health service in this country, with the majority of students being exempt from so many charges, why does student health insurance even exist?
Student health insurance exists primarily for the benefit of international students who come over to the UK to study. Students, who intend to study in the UK for more than a 6 month period, are required to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge, which then entitles them to NHS treatment. The cost of this surcharge is currently £150 a year in addition to the cost of a visa. Students who intend to be in the UK for less than 6 months are not entitled to any free NHS treatment and this is when student health insurance is highly recommended.
Aside from the fact international students would have to pay for any treatment or prescription charges should they become ill, there are also other factors, that can easily be forgotten about and which can soon see expenses rise.
Student health insurance can protect international students against:
- Any lost fees if they are unable to complete their course due to illness or injury.
- Travel costs should they need to return to their home country because a family member is ill.
- Travel costs should a relative need to come to the UK to visit the ill student.
- Travel costs if a student needs to return to their home country for a specific treatment.
- The cost of returning a body to their family, should a death occur.
- Pre-existing medical conditions that were a problem before arrival in the UK.
- Private medical care.
In order to be accepted for a good, quality health insurance policy, international students will need to comply with the individual terms and conditions of each insurer. As a general rule, insurance companies expect international students to have had all of the relevant vaccinations before entering the country and will expect medical proof of this.
If you already have health insurance within your home country, it is worth checking with the insurer as to whether you can extend the policy to cover you whilst you are in the UK. You can then compare the cost of this against the cost of some of the UK health insurance providers.
Examples of student health insurance providers
Endsleigh Insurance offers a variety of different insurance plans that have been customised to suit the needs of student. In terms of health insurance, they have a policy for international students, which also includes cover for their spouses, civil partners and children in the UK.
International Student Insurance provides comprehensive and affordable health insurance for international students. There are two different packages, designed to suit most requirements and budgets:
This policy provides cover for European travel and can be adapted to fit all budgets. Benefits include:
- Up to 8 different excess amounts.
- The option to renew for up to 2 or 3 years.
- Online Account Management.
- Hospitalisation/Doctors Visits
- Zero excess with an EHIC Card
- Cover for lost luggage/travel documents
- Instant online application
This policy is for students who are travelling to the UK from worldwide countries (outside of Europe). Cover is very similar to that included in the Europe Travel policy, but in addition you will also get:
- Costs towards prescription medication.
- Evacuation/Repatriation cover.
- Trip interruption, should your trip be cut short for whatever reason.
In answer to the question ‘Do Students need Health Insurance?’, more often than not, no. But, as you can see in the case of international students, it is essential that a solid student health insurance policy is put in place before they travel to this country. This will give the peace of mind that should anything happen to them whilst they are studying in the UK, they will be looked after in the best way possible.