Health insurance provides quick, private healthcare for you and your family when you need it the most, but is it right for you?
Health insurance, otherwise known as private health care, or private medical insurance, allows you to receive private medical treatment for a fee. But why should you consider private health care when you can get free health care from the NHS?
This guide can help you learn more about the pros and cons of private health insurance, and whether it could be right for you.
Buying a private medical policy gives you access to healthcare more quickly. It gives you more choice in where you get treatment, and the kind of hospital room you get.
When looking for private medical insurance there is no single best insurance policy. How you choose your private healthcare plan depends on what you might need it for, and what cover you require.
Private medical insurance can cover one or more people in the family. It is often on offer as workplace scheme under your name and to which you can add family members. You can choose the level of health insurance cover that you need.
The quotes you receive will be based on your age, state of health, and any medical conditions that you already have.
When you take out a policy, you either pay monthly premiums, or you pay a single annual premium which covers you for medical care for the whole year. Then, if you need treatment, your healthcare insurance provider will help you pay for the treatment, or you claim back the costs from your provider after treatment.
Depending on your policy, your medical care plan may cover all of the cost of the private medical treatment, or a portion of it.
Basic health insurance cover will pay for treatment if you are admitted as an inpatient to hospital – when you stay overnight.
Medium health insurance cover will include additional care if you are an outpatient – you come for treatment but are not admitted.
Some policies cover additional services such as physiotherapy, osteopathy and treatment for mental health conditions, including those not available on the NHS. You will usually have to pay an extra premium for these to be included if you are buying the medical healthcare plan yourself. Most workplace health plans include these extras as standard.
Whether you are buying medical cover yourself, or are offered it as a perk at work, there are a number of different options:
Individual policy – this covers you for treatment if you are ill and injured and means that you don’t have to join an NHS waiting list but can be seen quickly. You can choose where you want to be treated.
Joint policy – this covers you and your partner or spouse for healthcare treatment when you need it.
Family policy - you can add the names of your children or dependents to ensure that they are covered for any health issues that may arise.
International health insurance – this covers you and anyone named on the policy if you need medical treatment abroad. It provides emergency, inpatient and outpatient cover if you are living or working abroad. It can be especially useful if you are in countries where medical care is very expensive – like the United States – or where public medical services are very basic.
Company health insurance is offered to employees and their families. It is usually an optional perk provided by your workplace. Your employer may offer this benefit to you as a free perk, or heavily discounted.
Before you compare medical insurance suppliers it’s important to check the following details:
You can find out more about health insurance here.
There are usually two types of policies:
Limited health care cover – also known as moratorium underwriting. This won’t cover you for any pre-existing illnesses or any health problems you’ve had in the last five years.
However, if you suffer no symptoms, seek no medical advice and have no treatment or medication for these pre-existing conditions they can become covered again in the future. This period tends to be two years symptom, advice, treatment and medication free.
This tends to be the cheapest type of healthcare insurance.
Full healthcare cover – also known as full medical underwriting. In this case, you complete a medical questionnaire and the insurer will give you a definitive answer as to what is covered before your policy begins.
Most insurers will only cover you for new conditions, and treatments that can be administered over the short-term. As a result, long-term illnesses or regular care over a long period such as for a standard pregnancy or cosmetic treatments are less likely to be covered.
If you do have some specific areas of concern with regards to your future health, then check with the insurer whether or not you will be covered for them and to what level.
Like most other forms of insurance, you will get to select the level of cover you require, be it comprehensive, or a selection of a few areas.
Depending on your budget, you may wish to add in extras such as blood tests and x-rays, pick which hospitals you’d like access to, and how much excess you wish to pay.
The more comprehensive your cover, the more expensive your premiums are likely to be. So it is important to identify how important each area of cover is to you, and whether or not you would prefer NHS treatment in that case.
Health insurance can also provide cover for cancer treatment, including drugs and therapies that may not be approved for use by the NHS.
In a medical emergency you would still use Accident and Emergency but if you have a health insurance policy you can be moved to a private hospital if you require further treatment or for recovery.
The benefits you’ll receive from your private health insurance plan will depend on your level of cover, but in general you’ll be able to:
Generally, people choose private health care over the NHS because they’ll be able to get appointments faster and more convenient to their schedule.
Getting time to see a specialist after being referred by the GP might also be quicker.
Most private hospitals give patients a private en-suite room with TV, a selection of food and up-to-date technology.
Buying healthcare insurance is simple.
If you want to get started with your medical insurance plan then you can compare quotes before deciding to complete your application online or via a call to us. If you give us a call, we will work with our partner Active Quote to find you the best deal for your private healthcare plan.
Getting started on your medical insurance policy is easy – just tell us when you want to start and how much you want to spend.
You will need to put in your name, and date of birth, and the details of anyone else you want to include in the policy. Then you can see the different quotes available to you. You can find some useful tips on health insurance in our guide.
Our guide answers some of the most frequently asked questions about private medical insurance...
We outline some key terms to help you understand private medical insurance and what it covers...