In the United States, a patient can be charged more for an elective procedure than for the same procedure covered by their employer.
However, in the UK, a procedure is considered elective if the NHS decides to cover it, even if the patient does not want it covered.
The decision by the NHS, which is overseen by the Department for Health, could mean that a woman could be charged £3,000 for an appendectomy, as opposed to £15,000, which the Department of Health said it will cover for women in England.
Theresa May’s government is proposing to raise the cap on the cost of elective procedures to £5,000 by 2020, from the current £2,000.
Health Minister Nick Hurd has proposed a change to the NHS’s charging guidelines which will mean the NHS will cover procedures up to a certain limit of £5 for elective appendectomies.
He said the government is not proposing to “double the price of surgery”, and said it would “set the bar even lower”.
He said: “It is the case that some people will pay more than others for a procedure, but there will always be a market for electives.”
NHS spokesman said the current NHS charging policy is in place to cover procedures of the NHS standard that are covered by the health service and that is why they are covered.
He added: “In fact, some of the most common procedures are electives that patients would be covered by insurance for.”
There is no evidence to suggest that any additional charges would increase costs, and the NHS does not make any assumptions on how much the cost to cover electives will be.