Private Medical Insurance

Since the rise of Covid, interest in Private Medical Insurance has risen substantially as people look to avoid the NHS either out of fear or in an attempt to do their part to lessen the strain.

It is no secret how difficult it is to get your GP to see you, let alone get to the bottom of a health concern through your doctors. Private Healthcare could provide you and your loved ones with easier and quicker access to a professional. This is however balanced off by potentially high costs.

Private Medical Insurance: What is it?

In return for a monthly or annual premium, you can essentially jump the NHS queue. Gaining access to all parts of the treatment process for both physical and mental health, often even being offered a choice of specialist and location.

Will Private Medical Insurance Cover me?

The level of cover is variable, with more cover costing more. However, a comprehensive health insurance package will cover:

– Consultations
– In-patient services such as surgery
– Out-patient services like x-rays and tests
– Physiotherapy and other specialist services

There are some important exceptions, however, such as emergency care you’d get from A&E. Maternity care can be paid for but is not usually covered by an insurance policy and neither are chronic conditions such as arthritis and diabetes.

Pre-existing medical conditions are also not usually covered by policies, but some high-level schemes will provide cover.

How much is private healthcare?

If you have ever seen the medical bills in the US, they can be staggering. The average hospital stay last year ran up a cost of $11,700 (£9,650). Comparatively here in the UK, the average health insurance is around £1,500 per year or £125 per month according to Unbiased. If you need to make a claim, an excess is typically payable too. Like with insurance for your car, the higher you put the excess, the lower your premium will be.

In the same vein as other insurances, your premium is affected by a range of factors:

Typically, the main factors that will affect premium costs are:

Who’s covered – There are policies to cover just yourself or your entire family. Depending on the circumstances of each person, it may work out cheaper to have one policy or to keep several distinct policies.

Your medical history – As mentioned, private health insurance doesn’t usually cover pre-existing conditions, but any conditions you have may suggest you’re at risk of developing further problems. This is likely to increase your premiums.

Your lifestyle – Lifestyle choices like smoking and drinking, as well as your weight can all affect the price you pay.

Your age – Generally, the older you are, the more likely you are to claim on your insurance, making the premiums more expensive. The same happens with life insurance premiums.

Your family history – Any history of conditions within a family can also affect your premiums.

Where you live – This may seem odd, but some areas of the country are linked to certain medical conditions and others carry a higher price tag for private treatment.

Reducing the cost of health insurance

Priorities – Be sure to match your level of cover to the services you will actually need. Taking certain extras can drastically increase premiums.

Excess – As with other insurances, a higher excess usually results in a lower premium.

Waiting Periods – In some cases, accepting that if you can be seen within a certain period (typically between 4 – 8 weeks), you use the NHS instead, can reduce your premiums.

Stay fit – it seems simple, but quitting smoking, lowering your alcohol intake, and keeping healthy can have major effects on your premiums. Some policies even allow for changes in premiums due whilst they track your health.

Do I need private health insurance?

If the NHS wait times and strikes are cause for concern, then maybe the peace of mind private healthcare can offer is worth it for you.

Furthermore, private medical insurance can offer extra security for those who are self-employed. Potentially getting you back to work sooner than you would be without it.

Is private health insurance worth the cost?

In the end, deciding if private health insurance is worth it for you comes down to two factors:
Your level of concern regarding relying on the NHS.
How long it may take for diagnosis or treatments
For people who end up making multiple claims during their policy, the cost may be completely justified due to the speed of care when using private facilities.

Due to the potentially high costs of private healthcare, it is important to know if you can afford the premiums on an ongoing basis.

How to choose a healthcare plan

Given the complexity of some plans, allowing a professional adviser to sort through your options may be a wise decision. Here at First Equitable we have access to the whole of market and can provide you with some personal quotations; or if you would just like to ask a few questions please get in touch.

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