Many people in the U.K. don’t appreciate the value of private health insurance, until a health crisis befalls them, they have a bad experience of the NHS, or cannot even get the medical treatment they need. According to the Association of British Insurers, health insurance providers pay out around £7m in insurance claims every single day to help ordinary people through what can be worrying circumstances. Too many are still struggling on, waiting for their appointment letter to hit the mat, or putting up with conditions that trouble them daily when they don’t have to. So why aren’t more people getting medical health insurance in this country?
Of course the U.K. has a fantastic NHS that is still the envy of the world, but anyone keeping up with the news will know that there is generally at least one major NHS crisis that makes the news each week. Solicitors’ teams know the scale of files they have of cases of medical negligence, due to a system at breaking point in some areas. Purely for this fact alone, more people are turning to private medical insurance to help get some peace of mind that extra care can be obtained faster, and with a better level of service when they fall ill.
What You Need To Know About Private Health Insurance
Private health insurance companies differ in the services and products they offer to customers, so shopping around and taking your time to understand the various benefits on offer is worth your while. Private health insurance does not cover all medical conditions, albeit some companies may offer what their competitors do not. Getting independent advice on options best suited to you is vital.
Generally speaking private health insurance plans tend to pay for essential medical conditions that can be treated quickly, i.e. acute conditions that will respond to treatment, or surgery, medical tests and consultations. Your policy will exclude longer-term treatments, however. So, for instance, kidney dialysis, asthma treatment, or other long term care are often not covered by your insurance policy. You should check these so-called ‘exclusions’ before signing up for cover. Other likely exclusions include: drug and alcohol abuse, normal pregnancy or non-essential cosmetic treatments.
Most policies include both inpatient and outpatient treatment, so if you need to stay overnight in hospital, or only need a bed for the day, need to undergo tests, surgery, see a consultant, or if you need nursing care, you can obtain health coverage, within limits. Talk to health insurance brokers about the different amounts that treatment may be capped at by providers. Bear in mind that to some degree, you get what you pay for; types of out-patient treatment offered, or how much you can claim can vary.
Private Health Insurance Extras
The fact is that the NHS has limits on budgets and doctors and management are increasingly having to make difficult decisions. However, treatments either unavailable, or for which there are long waiting lists are not so much of an issue, for what is essentially a small price to pay. Some health insurance policies will include drug treatments that patients cannot obtain from the NHS, despite their having the approval of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, for instance.
One in four people will suffer a mental health problem at some time in their life, yet patients are still poorly served by services. Health coverage can include treatment for mental health conditions, such as more expensive drug treatments, or talking therapies, albeit this varies between insurance providers. Talk to a broker about what options they have as some insurance companies view some conditions as ‘curable’ illnesses, versus long-term care. Psychiatric treatments are available as add ons to basic policies.
Other areas where free services fall short include, for instance, complementary therapies, such as aromatherapy, acupuncture or even remedial physiotherapy. Some patients are appalled to find out that they will sometimes share an ambulance; private medical insurance guarantees a private ambulance. As people live longer, home nursing is needed by more people at a time when such services are under pressure; many domiciliary workers have only minutes to complete only the most essential of tasks, without time to reassure patients or even offer those little extras that help patients get well faster, or feel really cared for.
Most health insurance policies include provision of a 24-hour advice line for people concerned about symptoms they or a family member is experiencing.
Comprehensive health cover is also deeply reassuring for children who are obliged to stay in hospital, because accommodation can be provided for parents to be with them, so they are not alone at what is a worrying time for them.
The health insurance industry has got increasingly sophisticated over the years and is extremely competitive. This is good for consumers, because it means that private health insurance companies are coming up with more creative ways to attract new business, such as ‘modular plans’, which can be mixed and matched to suit the variety of needs of individuals, families and businesses. Comparison websites are a good start to get a feel for pricing of plans, but to ensure you get the best deal in terms of potential benefits, it is best to work through options with expert advisers. Health insurance brokers offer independent advice, because they are not tied to any single company and will take the time to understand what can often be complex needs or circumstances.
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Positive Health Insurance enjoys close working relationships with some of the largest private health insurance providers and employee benefit intermediaries.