Migrants from Romania and Bulgaria who travel to Britain without a job are to be told they must have private medical insurance to prevent the NHS becoming an 'international health service'.
Immigration minister Mark Harper, whose constituency is the Forest of Dean, told reporters that limiting access to free healthcare is seen as key to preventing a fresh influx of migrants when controls are lifted at the end of this year.
He suggested the requirement for medical insurance would apply to all student incomers and those who claim they are 'self-sufficient', meaning they are not coming looking immediately for work, reports the Daily Mail.
Ministers are also examining incomers' rights to benefits and other public services. Other measures under discussion include requiring migrants to leave Britain if they fail to secure a job after three months – or cannot prove they have sufficient funds to support themselves for at least six months.
Transitional arrangements in place since 2005, which restrict the rights of 29 million Bulgarian and Romanian citizens to live and work in other EU states, will expire on January 1. No official figure has been put on the anticipated number of arrivals.
Mr Harper, who is chairing a new cross-Government committee examining measures to deter incomers who would be a burden, said: "We are all clear we need an immigration system that works in the national interest. That is why we are bringing together colleagues from other departments to address the pull factors that drive immigration to the UK.
"European nationals do not have unrestricted access to the UK – they must be exercising their treaty rights. This means they must be working, studying or self-sufficient. We already have tough rules on access to benefits; we need to see if there is more we can do to tighten them up.
"In addition, EU students and those that are self-sufficient should not be a burden on the host member state, which means they should have things like health insurance. We have a National Health Service, not an international health service."