Getting the Right Health Insurance


Getting the Right Health Insurance

It’s difficult to avoid hearing news stories about the National Health Service in crisis, hardly surprising given that the NHS deals with over a million patients every thirty-six hours.  The level of care provided by the NHS is outstanding but the sheer volume of patients with which it must deal mean that waiting times can lengthen and that patient access to expensive specialist drugs may be limited.  It is perhaps for these reasons that over five million people in the UK have chosen private health insurance, either as part of their employment benefits or as an individual.  

The benefits of private health insurance include: shorter waiting times, increased access to scans, increased access to specialist drugs, quicker access to physiotherapy, a private room and a choice of hospital.  What isn’t covered with most policies are pre-existing medical conditions, cosmetic surgery, organ transplants, pregnancy and birth costs, chronic illness, mental illness or accidents resulting from participation in dangerous sports.  

Choosing the right health insurance is a complex process and you need to shop around carefully to ensure that you get the health insurance that is best suited to your needs.  Unlike car insurance, health insurance is not something that you switch regularly to save money, so getting the right policy from the outset is important.

There are two main types of policy: underwritten and moratorium.  An underwritten plan will require you to provide a full medical history but will then provide you with the widest cover.  A moratorium plan only requires you to submit limited information, it’s cheaper than an underwritten plan but does not provide the range of cover.  

You can, in negotiation with your provider, create a bespoke plan, working through a range of options such as: out patient cover, therapies cover, mental health cover and comprehensive cancer cover.  You can also set the level of excess which you wish to pay. All these choices will of course impact on the premium that you pay, generally, premiums get higher as you get older. Other factors which will determine the cost of your premiums include gender, your health record and the nature of your employment.  

Other insurance options include joint policies, family policies and child policies.  A Healthcare Cash Plan is an additional and inexpensive option which will cover you and your family for minor healthcare treatment such as dental care, provision of glasses and physiotherapy.  

At the other end of the scale is Critical Illness Cover, which is usually taken out as part of life insurance and covers you for a range of critical illnesses, depending on the nature of the policy.  In the event of illness, the policy pays out a tax free lump sum which can be used in any way you choose, either to pay for private health care or cover the cost of not working.  If there is a history of critical genetic illness in your family, this is an option that you ought to consider seriously.


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