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Health insurance

Provision of insurance What is the health insurance provision framework in your jurisdiction? For example, is it provided by the government, through private insurers or through self-funded arrangements provided by employers?

The National Health Service (NHS) provides medical services and treatments that are generally free for individuals who are ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, regardless of nationality. Services and treatments are also generally free for residents of other European Economic Area (EEA) states, provided that they hold a European health insurance card. However, charges are payable by both UK and EEA residents for certain medical services and treatments, unless an exemption applies. The services and treatments for which a charge is levied by the NHS vary across the United Kingdom.

The NHS is funded from taxation as well as from employer and employee NICs. Both employer and employee NICs are calculated as a percentage of the employee’s earnings and, in the case of employee contributions, are deducted from the employee’s salary in the same way as income tax.

Some employers offer private medical insurance to their employees as an additional employee benefit, but there is no obligation to do so. If such insurance is offered, income tax and NICs are payable on the value of the insurance premium.

Coverage levels Do any special laws mandate minimum coverage levels that must be provided by employers?

No.

Can employers provide different levels of health benefit coverage to different employees within the organisation?

Yes ‒ provided that this does not amount to direct or indirect discrimination on the grounds of the employee’s age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. If the provision of different levels of health benefit coverage amounts to direct or indirect discrimination on the grounds of the employee’s age, or indirect discrimination on any of the other grounds above, it is nonetheless permissible if the employer can demonstrate that it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Post-termination coverage Are employers obliged to continue providing health insurance coverage after an employee’s termination of employment?

No. Not unless they have entered into an agreement with the employee to do so.

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