Private medical insurance is a product that is often misunderstood by people because policies differ so widely from insurer to insurer. Private medical insurance complements the service offered by the NHS, and allows people to get private treatment if they do not want to be treated on the National Health Service. Premiums are paid monthly, quarterly or annually, and sometimes an excess can be added to the policy to bring this amount down.
So what are the advantages of buying a private medical insurance policy?
With private medical insurance, you will be able to avoid the long NHS waiting list and get treated at a time convenient to you. Once you have visited your GP and had your claim approved by your private medical insurer, you will be able to choose a time and date to be treated that fits in with your personal schedule.
In addition, you will be able to choose a private hospital you want to be treated in. Perhaps there is a private hospital near you that has an outstanding reputation. With private medical insurance you will be covered for treatment in this hospital. Facilities in private hospitals are second to none. You will be treated in an ensuite room with a television and a personal nurse call button, and a choice of carefully prepared meals. Away from the NHS wards you will also be avoiding hospital superbugs like MRSA and C. difficile.
Private medical insurance also gives you the chance to be treated with a top consultant or specialist for the entirety of your condition. This means that you will no longer swap between doctors that you don’t know and don’t know you. With private medical insurance you will be treated with a leading doctor in your field that has a full understanding of your medical history.
Another advantage of private medical insurance is the chance to access drugs and treatments not available on the NHS. The NHS only has a limited budget, and sometimes cancer drugs are turned down because they are too expensive to prescribe for free. However, if you compare health insurance policies with full cancer cover, you will be able to access licensed cancer drugs no matter what the cost is. These can help you make a full recovery.
But what are the disadvantages?
Private medical insurance is one of the more expensive insurance products on the market. Some people believe they cannot afford the cost of the monthly premiums. However, if you compare health insurance policies you will be able to add discount schemes that lower the price. Excess, six week wait options and reduced hospital lists can all be added to the policy to make it a bit more affordable.
Private medical insurance will not cover chronic conditions. However, some policies will cover an ‘acute flare-up’ of a chronic condition if the condition occurs after you take out the policy. This means that if you develop asthma after you take out private medical insurance your policy may cover the cost of the initial consultation and diagnostic tests, as well as stabilising any acute flare ups.
Another disadvantage of health insurance is that it will not cover any conditions you have suffered in the last 5 years (pre-existing conditions) in the first two years of the policy. However, with a moratorium policy the condition may be covered if you go two years advice, treatment and symptom free for that condition. There are also ‘fixed’ moratorium policies, which promise to cover agreed pre-existing conditions after two years on the policy, regardless of whether they reoccur in that time. If you compare health insurance quotes online make sure you understand which type of underwriting will suit you.
Whilst there are disadvantages to private medical insurance, if you compare health insurance policies then you will ensure that you are getting the best policy for your money, and be able to take full advantage of the UK healthcare system.