person holding amber glass bottlePhoto by <a href="" rel="nofollow">Christin Hume</a> on <a href="" rel="nofollow">Unsplash</a>


In 2015, the UK government introduced the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of the immigration application process. Non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals who visit the UK for more than six months must pay the IHS to use the National Health Service (NHS). This blog post aims to provide an overview of the Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) conducted on the IHS in 2023, focusing on its accessibility.


The IHS was implemented to ensure that migrants contribute to the cost of healthcare services they may use during their stay in the UK. The fee is paid upfront and allows migrants to access NHS services, including primary care, hospital treatment, and mental health support.

Accessibility of the IHS

The 2023 EIA on the IHS examined the impact of the surcharge on different groups of people, with a particular focus on accessibility—the assessment aimed to identify potential barriers preventing individuals from paying the surcharge or accessing healthcare services.


The EIA found that the IHS had a disproportionate impact on specific groups, including low-income migrants and vulnerable individuals. The upfront payment required for the surcharge created a financial barrier for those who could not afford it.

Additionally, the assessment highlighted that the application process for the IHS was complex and challenging for individuals with limited English proficiency or those who faced difficulties navigating the online system. This created accessibility barriers for certain groups, particularly those with disabilities or limited digital literacy.


The EIA report proposed several recommendations to address the accessibility issues identified:

  1. Introduce a waiver or reduction in the surcharge for low-income migrants, ensuring that healthcare remains accessible to those who need it most.
  2. Improve the accessibility of the online application system, including providing language support and simplifying the process for individuals with limited digital skills.
  3. Enhance communication and guidance for migrants, ensuring that information about the IHS is available in multiple languages and accessible formats.
  4. Collaborate with relevant organisations and stakeholders to raise awareness about the IHS and its impact on different groups, promoting equality and inclusivity.


The 2023 Equality Impact Assessment on the Immigration Health Surcharge highlighted the accessibility challenges faced by certain groups of migrants. The report’s recommendations aim to address these issues and promote equal access to healthcare services for all individuals, regardless of their background or circumstances.

By implementing the proposed changes, the UK government can work towards creating a fairer and more inclusive immigration system that ensures everyone has equal access to healthcare services during their time in the UK.

It is crucial to regularly review and assess policies, such as the IHS, to identify any potential inequalities and take proactive steps to address them. The findings and recommendations of the EIA provide a valuable roadmap for improving the accessibility of the IHS and ensuring that healthcare remains accessible to all migrants.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *