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Published on : Thursday, February 4, 2016
Health tourism laws are forcing migrant women to take risky decisions that may harm them and their child. Women are being charges with £6,000 for a normal birth, with emergency procedures such as caesareans adding around £3,000, because of the 150% tariff introduced to prevent “health tourism” from outside the EU.
Many of these migrant women who cannot afford these fees are being thrown in the most difficult situation. Hospitals are required to report to the Home Office in case an unpaid bill crops up. Mothers bearing the burden of these huge bills are living in fear if they haven’t been able to pay the money as letters keep arriving threatening action if they are unable to pay their bills.
The kind of a pressure is forcing many to prolong their visit to the doctors , instead resorting to midwives. But if the conditions get critical they are compelled to see doctors and end up with hefty bill.
Most migrants live in dire poverty and are not in a position to shell the amount that is expected of them. A Department of Health spokesperson said that no woman should be denied treatment for maternity care. “Overseas visitors who are not entitled to free NHS healthcare will be charged for services but this shouldn’t delay their treatment and we would never refuse services to pregnant women.”
Immigration act applies across the UK but the home office decides who to charge. Refused asylum seekers, for example, are exempt from secondary charges in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.