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Health Insurance

Private Health Insurance often called Private Medical Insurance or PMI

 What is Private Medical/Health Insurance?

Private medical insurance is what you can pay for having the ability to be seen by an expert of your choice and the option of being treated in a hospital of your choice at a time which is suitable for you. Being able to bypass the NHS waiting list can be that if you are a self-employed person you will have the opportunity to be able to get back to work earlier and keep your business running. Additional benefits are the comfort of your own room and en-suite facilities; a real luxury if you have ever stayed in an NHS hospital.

Corporate companies will often enhance a job offer by including Private medical Insurance. This not only benefits the individual but also means that the company workforce is not subject to long term sick leave but is treated quickly maintaining productivity.
People often take out Private medical insurance because they are worried that they will not be seen fast enough or be treated quickly by the NHS services.

There is sometimes confusion over how Private health insurance and private medical insurance relates to other insurances such as cash back health plans and critical illness. Make sure you before you purchase that you are clear about what you want.

Is Health Insurance affordable?

Some businesses offer a health insurance programme that you contribute towards. However, this can sometimes be beyond what many people can afford. It is also worth noting that if you make a claim then 10% will be added to the cost of the policy making it even more expensive. Another cost will be that your annual premium will rise in line with inflation although many may well rise above that level.

Private insurance is not cheap but it can give you peace of mind knowing that although it is expensive you will get top notch care
How can I keep the cost of Private Medical Insurance down?
With the existence of “compare” sites buying online can sometimes mean that you can get a discounted quote but shop around as some insurance companies don’t necessarily put their details on compare sites. As with any policy make sure you get 3 quotes that you can compare and check that they all have the same benefits and there be aware that there are a lot of loopholes so always read the small print. The last thing you want to do is take out a policy only to find you are not covered when it comes to claiming the bill

Ways of reducing the costs can include options such as:

  • Allowing the hospital to select a consultant to treat you
  • Allowing your insurer to decide which hospital should treat you
  • Time delay – this means you will wait for six weeks which is the usual NHS waiting time
  • You can pay a voluntary excess
  • Cost sharing where you agree to pay a proportion of all costs
  • Paying annually can reduce costs
  • Some offer no claims discounts

What Health Insurance will I need?

You should ideally seek the assistance of a broker. Brokers will offer independent advice and make sure the policy you are considering meets all of your requirements. The FSA dictates that the broker must tell you if they are independent or limited to certain insurers or represent one company.
Your health insurance policy should be tailored to your needs as quite a few offer blanket policies that will have aspects you may not require. If you have a condition you might have to pay a premium or risk not being covered
Check that whoever you choose is regulated by the FSA. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is the regulator of the financial services industry in the United Kingdom.  You can check the FSA register to ensure the company is regulated here.

What does Health Insurance not cover?

Health insurance won’t normally include pre-existing conditions which means that a company will not insure you for any illnesses or diseases that you have experienced in the past five years or you have had advice or treatment for. Some policies may only cover you for a specific amount of time e.g. cancer treatment may only be for a set period of time and not be available for the full term that you are ill. Also you may not be covered even if you have not been officially diagnosed with a condition but have consulted your doctor and are medically linked you may not be covered.
It is very important that you check the policy to find out exactly what you are not covered for as the list is often extensive. What the policy covers you for can sound enticing but do read the small print.

Common Private Medical Insurance Exclusions

  • A and E admission
  • Outpatient’s treatment, medicines or dressings
  • Private GP
  • Long term treatments i.e. asthma
  • Dental (unless incorporated in policy)
  • Drug and alcohol abuse services
  • Routine well person health examinations
  • Mobility equipment
  • Cosmetic unless due to illness
  • Some psychiatric care
  • Transplant surgery unless specified

Types of Medical Insurance

There are primarily 3 different types of medical insurance:

Budget /Low cost Health Insurance:

This usually activates if treatment is not available from the NHS after 6 weeks. These types of policies don’t usually include outpatient treatment, physiotherapy or any complimentary therapies

Comprehensive Health Insurance:

In addition to the above, this type of policy will include hospital stays and costs associated with the stay

Premium or Total Health Insurance:

Premium or Total Health Insurance include different types of cover such as dental care and long term cancer treatments

What does full medical underwriting mean?

You will be expected to give full details of your medical history and insurance company might contact your doctor to check the information you have given them. Failure to give all of your details could result in you not being able to claim for your treatment.

What does moratorium underwriting mean?

Unlike the example above, this means that your Health insurance Company won’t ask you for your medical history. They will also not cover any treatment related to a condition or anything you have sought advice on or have taken medication for in the last five years.
It is extremely important that you check and make sure you are covered for what you think you are paying for.

You will find that all Health Insurance policies should have a cooling off period of 14 days whereby you can cancel the policy and receive a full refund if you decide the policy is not the correct one for you

Health Insurance

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