Health insurance for migrants

June 29, 2010 10:50 AM

One of the big dilemmas on immigration is how to manage its accompanying costs to taxpayers. It is genuinely the case that the right kind of migration - i.e. people with the right skills in the right numbers to the right places - can be of economic benefit to the British economy as well as to the migrants themselves.

However, it is also undeniable that migrants can place extra costs on taxpayers by placing an extra capacity burden on public services. How to avoid the problem of resident UK taxpayers having to pick up  the bill for new and recent arrivals using the NHS and so on?

The Government are apparently considering a possible solution - requiring the firms who employ migrants from outside the EU to provide health insurance for them.

This would be an improvement, shifting the burden of healthcare for migrants from taxpayers to the firms who directly benefit from their presence in the UK. Obviously, there are foreseeable difficulties in enforcing such a policy, just as there are in enforcing current immigration laws (see Baroness Scotland's cleaner troubles) or current requirements for car insurance.

However, the general thrust of the policy seems pretty good - with one notable flaw. Due to the handover of powers to Brussels, the restriction will only apply to non-EU migrants, neglecting the costs of providing services for all those from the EU.

It is good news that the Government are acknowledging this issue and public concern about it, but unless they face up to the loss of sovereignty to the EU then they are only ever going to be able to half deal with it.

One of the big dilemmas on immigration is how to manage its accompanying costs to taxpayers. It is genuinely the case that the right kind of migration - i.e. people with the right skills in the right numbers to the right places - can be of economic benefit to the British economy as well as to the migrants themselves.

However, it is also undeniable that migrants can place extra costs on taxpayers by placing an extra capacity burden on public services. How to avoid the problem of resident UK taxpayers having to pick up  the bill for new and recent arrivals using the NHS and so on?

The Government are apparently considering a possible solution - requiring the firms who employ migrants from outside the EU to provide health insurance for them.

This would be an improvement, shifting the burden of healthcare for migrants from taxpayers to the firms who directly benefit from their presence in the UK. Obviously, there are foreseeable difficulties in enforcing such a policy, just as there are in enforcing current immigration laws (see Baroness Scotland's cleaner troubles) or current requirements for car insurance.

However, the general thrust of the policy seems pretty good - with one notable flaw. Due to the handover of powers to Brussels, the restriction will only apply to non-EU migrants, neglecting the costs of providing services for all those from the EU.

It is good news that the Government are acknowledging this issue and public concern about it, but unless they face up to the loss of sovereignty to the EU then they are only ever going to be able to half deal with it.

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