A Guide to Understanding Private Health Insurance

In the UK, we are fortunate enough to have the NHS which entitles us to free healthcare. However, some citizens decide to take out private health insurance. This can cover the cost of being treated by a private healthcare provider. Here, we will discuss how to take out private health insurance, whether you’re suitable for it or not, the advantages and disadvantages, as well as several things you can do before taking out a policy. 

A Guide to Understanding Private Health Insurance

What Does Private Health Insurance Do? 

Private health insurance (otherwise referred to as private medical insurance) can be used to pay some or the entirety of your medical bills if you are treated privately. One of the reasons UK residents opt for this is because private health insurance gives them more choice in terms of the level of care they receive, how they receive it, and when it is provided. If you do not wish to use the NHS, it can be incredibly expensive to be treated privately without private health insurance – particularly if you have a serious medical condition. 

What Does Private Health Insurance Cover? 

Like with any insurance, the cover you receive from private health insurance will depend on what kind of policy you purchase, as well as who you buy it from. Should you opt for a basic policy, this will usually pick up the cost of most in-patient treatments, including surgery, tests, and day-care surgery. Some policies reach further to cover out-patient treatments. This can include appointments with consultants and specialists. 

What Isn’t Covered in Private Health Insurance? 

While it’s important to look at what is covered in private health insurance, it is just as important to look at what isn’t covered. This is because the last thing you want is to take out a policy to find you have to pay for your treatment. 

In general, private healthcare insurance will not normally cover private treatment for normal pregnancy and childbirth costs, organ transplants, injuries associated with dangerous sports, chronic illnesses like HIV/AIDS, as well as pre-existing medical conditions. It’s your responsibility to thoroughly examine the terms and conditions before committing to a policy. If you have any doubts, make sure you speak to the insurance provider, as they will guide you through the process and ensure your policy matches up with your healthcare needs. 

How Do I Pick a Private Health Insurance Plan? 

If you are in employment, your company benefit plans may include private health insurance for workers. Some employers will set the policy up for you, as well as pay all the premiums as part of the deal, whereas others provide access to lower cost private health insurance than you would be able to purchase yourself. 

Should you not have access to private health insurance through work, there are other options you can go down to buy the best health insurance. These include taking out cover through a broker like switchhealth.co.uk who can help you find the best private health insurance quotes on the market. You can also take out private health insurance with building societies, banks, and even retailers like a supermarket. With so many options to choose from, you mustn’t rush into making any quick decisions. Each policy will have different incentives and drawbacks, so take your time choosing. 

Is Private Health Insurance Right for Me? 

When it comes to taking out private health insurance, it is very much a personal preference. While UK residents can receive free NHS treatment, you only really need to take out a private health insurance policy if you would like to be seen quickly for treatment or want to be covered for treatment and drugs that you cannot get on the NHS. These include specialist surgery for sports-associated injuries. 

Why Don’t I Need Private Health Insurance? 

If you are happy to stick with the NHS for your treatment, already receive medical insurance through your company’s benefits package, or don’t have tons of cash to shell out on a policy, you may prefer to stick with NHS treatment instead. If you are concerned about your child becoming ill, it must be noted that children get immediate priority with the NHS. 

For those who are in debt or have no savings behind them, it’s wiser to put your money towards those, instead of opting for private health insurance. 

Advantages of Private Health Insurance 

Understanding the pros of private health insurance will give you a better idea of whether it’s right for you. Some of these include getting the scans you want, specialist referrals, reduced waiting time and having the ability to pick your hospital and surgeon. Other pros include getting a private room, having quicker access to physiotherapy sessions, and obtaining specialist drugs and treatments that may not be available on the NHS. 

Disadvantages of Private Health Insurance 

While there are many advantages of private health insurance, it’s important to be aware of the cons too. Private health insurance can be expensive, and the price will go up each year. As you get older, premiums will rise, and should you require hospital treatment, you may not be able to foot the bill. You may also receive better care on the NHS, especially if you have a serious illness like heart disease or cancer. This is because you will receive priority treatment on the NHS. If you have a chronic illness like diabetes, you must be aware that it will not usually be covered with private health insurance. Pre-existing medical conditions are not normally covered either. 

What to Think About When Purchasing Private Health Insurance 

While you should now have a better idea of what private health insurance is, and how it may benefit you, there are certain things to think about before purchasing a policy. These include getting advice 

from a financial advisor or broker. These are experts who understand the A-Z of private health insurance. They can compare insurers and help you figure out what step to take next. You may even find that some policies provide discounted cover which can save you money. 

When making a claim, the insurer will examine your medical history. This means that, if you haven’t answered accurately or truthfully in your application, you run the risk of your claim being rejected, and in a worst-case scenario, your policy being cancelled. You should always be open and honest when making your claim. Also, ensure you read the small print of your private health insurance policy. There is no room for error when filling out your application. 

While we all know that the NHS is fantastic at what they do, long waiting times for appointments and operations can be frustrating. As they say, your health should always come first, so if you have the money to do so and want peace of mind, it may be worth taking out private health insurance. There are numerous providers who offer private health insurance policies, so make sure to refer to this guide when selecting one to get a clearer idea of what to look out for, and whether private health insurance is suitable for you.

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Tracy Kiss

Social influencer, Bodybuilder, Mother, Vegan
London, UK

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