Private health insurance (PMI) has opened up a wide range of healthcare options to the public, who for many years could only access private healthcare treatment by paying for it themselves (even minor operations can cost several thousand pounds).
These insurance policies are designed to cover the costs of private healthcare treatment and consultations and offer a wide range of private hospitals to choose from.
Having private health insurance gives you the reassurance of knowing that treatment for eligible conditions is available promptly if you become ill or injured, which can help avoid the stress of long hospital waiting lists and inconvenient appointment times.
It should not be regarded as an alternative to the National Health Service (private hospitals are generally not equipped for casualty situations), but it will ensure that you receive care more quickly, at a time and place of your choice.
Usually PMI plans are taken out as a yearly contract with various different payment options. You can generally reduce your premiums by making sure you have an excess limit in place, meaning you will be eligible to pay the first £100 or thereabouts of any claim that you make.
PMI can generally be taken out by an individual, a married or unmarried couple, a single parent or a family. The premium that you pay tends to increase on a yearly basis due to medical inflation. Payments will also increase with age.
Is it affordable?
Contrary to what many people in the UK think, there are a number of affordable private medical insurance policies available on the market.
The last few years have seen a number of private medical insurance companies introduce new insurance initiatives launched to curb increasing health insurance premiums, and make medical insurance more affordable for a person of average wealth.
Private medical insurance plans are available at a number of different levels, ranging from comprehensive to budget, and the level of protection that you can afford will depend on your individual circumstances. Health insurance companies now offer innovative solutions for even the most basic of health insurance needs, so whatever your budget may be, you will be able to find a suitable insurance plan on the market.
Choosing a Policy
When choosing your private medical insurance policy there is a number of factors that should influence your decision, depending on your individual case
- Are you looking for a comprehensive or a budget healthcare plan?
- Do you have money to spare to cover outpatient costs, meaning reduced premiums?
- How old are you? – The cost of medical insurance increases significantly with age.
- Where do you live? – Medical insurance plans can be more expensive in urban areas.
- What are your exact cover requirements? – For example, some people prefer their health insurance policies to cover complimentary therapy.
- Can you afford voluntary excess payments? – Voluntary excess is a set sum that you pay in order to reduce premiums on your private health insurance policy.
Making a Claim
Firstly, it is important to establish what is wrong with you, and whether you need a private consultation. It is important to obtain a quote in advance, prior to the start of your treatment, and make sure that your insurer will be willing to pay the costs. Some insurers will prefer to settle their bills with the hospital, as opposed to you making payments and claiming the money back from them.