I had my first experience of the medical system here in the UK. Seeing the doctor in a local practice was basically the same as in the US. The differences…no copay…when scheduling, you have to tell them whether you need to see a doctor or a nurse…they only call you back once the doctor will see you. Prescriptions just cost £6.50 each, no matter what.

If you have a visa that allows you in the country longer than 6 months, then you automatically get covered by the medical system here. Since it is socialized medicine, you don’t pay any insurance premiums. When you get to town, you have to register with a surgery (that is, a doctors office). The NHS then sends you a number a few weeks later, which is similar to a SSN. One other difference, pediatricians are considered specialists, so your kids just go to the GP (general practitioner) unless they are referred.

The dental system is not as responsive. If you are covered by the NHS, then you may wait a year or more to get accepted by a dental surgery (if the closest one is even accepting NHS patients). You can get seen right off if you pay for it yourself or if you have some type of private insurance. We signed up with one in early September that had openings for NHS patients and have not heard anything yet.