How long can you leave England for (traveling to the US, POST-COVID) while remaining on British Health Insurance/Coverage?

Hi,

For background, I am living in the US but have 2 grandparents who live in England. As they get older, it has been generally accepted that they cannot move here as they will be unable to get health insurance or it will be astronomically high (grandfather has recently survived cancer)

1. Is this true?

As I thought about this, I was curious how long they could travel for without losing their Health Insurance/Coverage. For example, could they stay here for 3 months, 6 months, 1 year? If they were to get ill here, would they be covered or would all expenses be paid as if they were un-insured?

Appreciate any links that may provide further details or agencies I could inquire with further.

Thank you.

7 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

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  • drip
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Yes it is true. They will be uninsured while in the USA.  If you could move them here on a visa you sponsor,  they could pay for health insurance  in the USA, but it is extremely expensive and it still won’t cover all medical care or needs.  

    A tourist visa is for 90 days. And they should take out travelers insurance each and every time they visit. 

  • 2 months ago

    Whose coverage? NHS? Private coverage? If it's private, ask the insurance company.

    If it's the NHS, the US is not on the very short list of countries which have a reciprocal health care agreement with the UK, in which the NHS pays for treatment in another  country. The NHS may pay something towards your treatment in a foreign country that does not have a reciprocal agreement. I say may; it also may not. I didn't find anything about that after a short look at the NHS website.

    The problem is that health care in the US is very very expensive. IF the home country pays, it will probably only pay what it would have paid for the same treatment inside the home country and that will only be a fraction of the US bill. I'm in Canada where we have universal health care. I don't even go to the US for a 3 day camping trip without buying travel insurance, with at least a million dollars of coverage. There have been horror stories of Canadians getting a $15,000 bill for a sprained ankle or $1000 for a few bandages in A& E, that would have been treated for free in Canada. We won't even get into what happens if someone has a heart attack or something really serious and has to be in hospital for a few weeks.

    The US government is not going to pay their medical bills in the US. They may get lucky and have the bills reduced by whoever is billing them, merely because there's a better chance they will actually pay if the bill is smaller, but no way is someone going to just pay on their behalf.

    Travel insurance for older people and people with recent illnesses can indeed be expensive. Only an insurance company can say how much.

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  • MS
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    They would have to use travel insurance to cover their medical needs if they are traveling here to visit.  They can stay here up to 90 days without a visa, or you could sponsor them for a green card if you are a permanent US resident.

    If they become green card residents, they can purchase Medicare or another insurance but will not be eligible to receive free Medicare coverage.

    If they do not have insurance, then their care is not "paid as if they were un-insured."  They are billed for the costs of their care at the uninsured rate.  Their NHS coverage does not apply here.  I don't know the details, but NHS coverage is based on residency, so it could be lost if they are away from the UK for too long.

  • 2 months ago

    1 - yes; unless you sponsor them (which is likely to take several years) and take the full financial responsibility for their care in the US

    2 - their health care in the UK (ie the NHS), as long as they remain resident there, wouldn't lapse; but it wouldn't cover any care whatsoever in the US; it's not travel insurance.They'd need to take out their own travel insurance for anything outside the UK (and this generally doesn't cover pre-existing issues, check-ups etc)

    In addition, UK tourists can't stay in the US for significant periods of time. No visa = no long-term options. So your grandparents will need to remain resident in the UK and visit for short periods; or obviously you can visit them.

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    It's not entirely true that coverage will be prohibitively expensive. The ACA made it illegal to deny coverage.

    There is no reciprocity at all between the American health system and the NHS. Their coverage does not extend to the US in any way. If they were to get ill while in the US, they will not be covered and will be liable to pay as uninsured.

    In order to maintain eligibility for the NHS they have to maintain their primary residence in the UK -- maintaining a primary home, financial ties, and personal accounts in the UK rather than spending a certain amount of time there. You can lose your NHS coverage the minute you leave if you've left/sold your home and have no ties to the UK.

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