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Biologics as an immigrant

Ellen_Julia profile image

Hi all, I am moving to the UK due to work relocation(from South africa) I am currently on a sponsorship visa, (as I do not have a british passport/citizenship of any sorts). I have suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for 17 years, (am 24) very healthy, but need biologic and chronic medication (Enbrel and Methotrexate). Is this covered by the NHS, or on my own account? I cannot find a straight answer online. Please let me know am desperate!

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14 Replies

Just by the way, I will be paying UK tax and my NI is sorted by my company I work for.


Do you not have medical insurance.

Biologic medications are very expensive and I am not sure if South Africa has a health agreement with the United Kingdom.

Many people in the UK are denied -TNF medications I been one of them. Personally if you visit a country would it not have been a good idea to take insurance out before visiting the UK as the British may possibly need to pay in your home country.

You can check on the Government web page under health. Although I do feel it is a bit rough to have taken for granted that medical treatments should be there awaiting your arrival.

celtic2746 profile image
celtic2746 in reply to

hi there i cant understand why you havent sorted this out by now people are being refused medicines here on tbe ground of cost so i cant understand why you should have them free or at reduced rate you should have sorted out insurance before you come here !

Thank you for an extremely rude and unhelpful response! Perhaps you should learn to read questions properly in the future!

What about having a chat with the company you are hoping to work for ? THey may meet your medical expenses when u r travelling for them? Good luck in finding out more x

Ellen_Julia profile image
Ellen_Julia in reply to allanah

Thanks Allanah!

Rules here have been changed dramatically in recent years and from what I've read you will have to pay direct for it for at least the first two years but saying that, the other two replies are very informative and would be a good idea to talk to your employer first before you move.

Take care

Ellen_Julia profile image
Ellen_Julia in reply to Philip

Thanks so much Philip, I thought so much about the biologics, I've been on my own medical aid here in SA for 17 years. My medication is covered by the NHS on the list , so I guess its a case of being accepted, I don't think it should be a major problem long term. Otherwise I will fly to JHB to bring my meds across. Thanks :D

Thank you Philip and Allanah for the great responses,

I will definitely speak to my employers about the cost of my biologics, I am on Medical Insurance here in SA. Of course I expect nothing for free, I just need my ducks in a row before I sign any contracts.

Have a great day!

It is not just the medications you need it is the blood tests and all the checks and bloods you need to consider,what will you do it your medications become unsuitable for you as is the case with many sufferers here. Most treatments with these types of drugs can and will affect your immune system. You really need to discuss this with your Sponsar

At the moment the NHS is a financial mess,that is why these sites are here as they take up the slack that is caused by these financial shortfalls.

Personally I am involved with voluntary work with the NHS, again this is picking up the slack. One of the departments I deal with is the costs of treatments as again represent the NHS through my GP surgery. Also I do further works dealing with patients problems and believe me there is very little slack now because of the political situation. Please consider insurance as we would generally do this if we were in your country.

Many patients are unable to get many of the modern or expensive medications here and sometimes treatments become restricted because of this.

Ellen_Julia profile image
Ellen_Julia in reply to

What are the costs involved for private medical aid?

hi ellen julia im sorry if i upset u before that wasnt my.intention ! the point i was trying to make was that the nhs is struggling at the moment we get what we call health tourist which i accept you are not one so i apologise ! i wish you well and hope you enjoy it here in the uk ! regards the medical insurance i would think the nhs would your best bet as any.contribution is taken from your paycheck.! the reason im saying this that because you have a pre - existing condition very few if any private healthcare insurers will cover you ! i wish you well david !

Hello Ellen

Look at Web Page and read under South Africa, you can get on that page in the first index page as you enter Google etc Look under reciprical agreement South Africa United Kingdom There is no reciprical agreements with your country and you will need insurance befor leaving your country and there are further things you need to supply before you get here including possible vaccinations There are several companies who will cover medications one being I think BUPA.

Good Luck


Although I am still a resident in the UK, I spend a lot of time out of the UK as my husband works abroad. Whilst I am staying with him internationally, I have health insurance which covers all of my health needs, including all medication. I would presume that this is how it would be when non residents visit the UK - that they need health insurance to cover both emergencies and ongoing health issues. Clemmie

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