We’re constantly being told the NHS is in crisis. Old people are getting too old, the tea is getting too cold – you know what I’m on about. Yet for whatever reason, ministers never seem keen to put forward any real solutions to these successive crises. That’s just as well, to be honest. Whenever they do interfere, it turns into a complete farce.
Take health tourism, for example.
As a foreigner living in the UK, I’ve got to sit down every few years and ask really nicely for permission to keep living here. Yet every time the government lets me stay, it makes them look bad for some reason; therefore, officials do their damnedest to shift the goalposts as often as humanly possible. Their latest move? The introduction of a health surcharge meant to subsidise my already subsidised healthcare.
Okay, so the idea itself is quite simple: by forcing visa applicants to pay for years’ worth of healthcare upfront, dirty migrants will no longer be able to defraud the NHS for free paracetamol.
In some cases, that actually makes sense. For example, a health premium is a great way to ensure tax-exempt foreign students aren’t getting a free ride. It’s also perfectly reasonable to expect tourists to pay hospital fees after spraining an ankle outside Buckingham Palace.
Yet in most cases, the government’s new health surcharge is nothing but a feeble sideshow meant to placate Britain’s closet racists.
Nowadays, a ludicrous number of people seem to live under this false presumption that their tax money is being wasted on soulless Polish prostitutes who fly here first-class to snag free abortions. Let’s pretend for two minutes this is something that actually happens. Because of numerous EU treaties, it’d be illegal for us to bar most foreign nationals from receiving the care and dignity to which they’re entitled. So, in order to feign proactivity, UK politicians have been forced to find somebody else to pick on.
This brings us to my own, personal qualm (indulge me): I’ve spent my entire adult life in Britain. My wife and children are British, my education was British and my mortgage is British. As a busy, white-collar worker bee, I make a tiny bit more than the average UK-born worker – and every month, 20 per cent of my salary is rightly handed over to the crown.
Of that contribution, almost a fifth then goes directly to the NHS. That means I am personally spending over £1,200 every year to prop up the UK's healthcare system.
I’m not moaning about it – taxes are taxes. But let’s approach this logically: since arriving in the UK, I’ve paid thousands of pounds to fund a healthcare system I’ve used three or four times. Now, in order to stay with my family, I’m being told to pay a health surcharge worth hundreds of pounds before my next visa application is even considered – after which time, I will be expected to continue paying thousands of pounds to fund the healthcare I have theoretically already paid for, and will hopefully continue to avoid.
Great job, guys – you can all go home now. The NHS has been saved.
Listen: I get it. Our health service isn’t perfect, and it’s nice to think non-deserving foreigners are to blame. But here’s the kicker: most of us migrants are already paying for the NHS every single day, just like you.
We’ve got jobs, pay our taxes and hope never to see our GP. Hell, the government seems to suck more money from my wages than it gets off Starbucks. Yet because of this convoluted witch hunt surrounding health tourism, taxpayers like me are literally being told to pay twice for the same damn service. Why? As punishment for not being born in a British hospital.
Make no mistake: there are plenty of ways to prevent foreigners from taking the piss out of the NHS – but a health surcharge is most definitely not one of them.
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