The UK is one of the few countries in the world that has a universal, free national healthcare service. For the majority of people this service functions exceptionally well and is there for them when they need to see a doctor or receive treatments for injuries and illness. The question I find you asking then is why do people purchase private health insurance?
There are a vast array of potential reasons as to why someone prefers to use the private healthcare model rather than the NHS. One of the top reasons cited is waiting times, with private health insurance you are likely to receive treatment for less critical treatments than you might on the NHS, however this may not be the case for urgent care. Other reasons for private care include being able to receive services that are not available through the NHS (e.g. some cosmetic surgery) and having the choice of the date, consultant and hospital you receive your treatment from. There are certainly some benefits to having private health cover, but what should you consider when you start conducting your research into the best providers?
The biggest thing to consider when looking to take out any healthcare cover is the cost. This is not just the cost of the policy, it is looking at the potential costs of any excess, the cost of treatments that are not covered by the policy and all ongoing financial commitments related to the policy. You also need to take into account the possibility of your premiums increasing each year.
The biggest thing to ask yourself is, ‘can I afford to pay for the insurance?’ Due to the universal healthcare system in the UK, private health insurance is not necessarily deemed essential in the same way that car or home insurance is. If you have come to the decision that health insurance is for you, there are a number of things you can do to bring the cost down and ensure you have a cover sufficient for your needs. The best way is to shop around and if possible consult some advisors for advice on the sector.
Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
A major aspect of any health insurance cover is whether they cover pre-existing medical conditions. These conditions generally include conditions like asthma and other long-term, non-curable ailments. A number of health insurance policies do not cover these conditions and a number of policies will even stipulate that you cannot claim on the policy for a set period of time following its commencement.
As part of the application process you will have to complete some medical screening questions, it is critical that you answer these accurately giving as much information as you can, most insurers will also ask if you are a smoker. The reason these questions are asked is to ascertain whether you are at greater risk of health complications, if you are it is likely you will face higher premiums. If policies give you an option to cover pre-existing conditions they may add a further premium onto the cost of your cover – it is important you understand what is covered by your insurance, and the costs for additional cover.
Like other types of insurance, private healthcare insurance can come with excesses, in fact having an excess on your policy will likely bring down your premiums. The way excesses work is by having you, the policyholder, pay an agreed sum of money towards your treatment. The amounts vary policy to policy but are generally below £1,000.
Depending on the policy, there are different ways of applying an excess. Some policies work in a way that sees you pay for minor treatments in full, with the major treatments covered by your insurer without excess. You should check the excesses, along with the terms and conditions, on all the policies you consider and only commit to an excess that you can afford, should the need for treatment arrive.
The key to taking out private health insurance is similar to any other insurance policy, do some research and shop around for a good deal. A good way of shopping around can be through the use of an insurance broker – a company that contacts a number of insurers on your behalf and due to their buying power they are often able to provide you with a cheaper quote then going direct. It is advisable that if you choose to use a broker, go with one that specialises in health insurance – such as flexiblehealth.net – as they are generally better placed to offer advice and find the most suitable policies for your circumstances. However you look for your health insurance just remember to take the above into consideration and ensure that the policy you choose is suitable for you.
Article provided by Flexible Health, an authorised and directly regulated independent broker of health insurance, covering all of the major insurers – with access to exclusive products.