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Do I need health insurance?
No-one in the UK needs health insurance as we are lucky enough to have free health care under the NHS. However, health insurance gives you access to the benefits of private medical care.
Benefits of private medical care include quicker diagnosis, shorter waiting times and potentially better facilities. With health insurance you can also enjoy:
- The ability to choose the hospital where you are treated.
- The ability to choose the doctor or specialist who treats you.
- Access to a private or shared room in a private hospital.
What types of health insurance can I get?
There are a few different types of health insurance policies out there, each covering different treatments. It’s important to understand the differences so you can find the right insurance for you.
Cover varies depending on each provider, but below are examples of some of the types of treatments you can find cover for:
- Outpatient treatments. An outpatient is someone who visits a hospital for tests or consultations without staying overnight. Health insurance would cover you for these treatments.
- In-patient treatments. An in-patient is someone who is admitted to hospital whilst undergoing treatment. Health insurance would cover you for these treatments as well as your stay in hospital.
- Day-patient treatment. A day patient is someone who takes up a bed in hospital but does not stay over night, returning home after their test or procedure.
- Dental treatment. Dental cover is often offered as an optional extra by health insurance providers.
- Radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Many providers offer cancer cover which can include cover for surgeries, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
How can I save on my health insurance?
Just like other types of insurance, there are little tips and tricks that you can do to bring down your premiums. Health insurance can be one of the most expensive types of insurance out there so check out our list of handy hacks that could potentially end up saving you hundreds of pounds.
- Opt to pay a higher excess. Like with other types of insurance, you can often bring down the price of premiums by opting to pay a higher excess in the event of a claim. However, it is important to keep it to an affordable figure in keeping with your lifestyle and budget.
- Don’t pay for services you don’t need. This may seem like an obvious point, but there is no need to pay for cover that you don’t need. This may mean opting for a more basic policy or tailoring a policy to suit your specific requirements.
- Shop around. One of the best ways to find the best deal is to compare providers and policies. Don’t forget, it’s important to compare policy features as well as price.
- Use a broker. One way of cutting down costs or increasing your policy features is to go through a broker. Brokers can negotiate with insurers on your behalf, they can also often offer advice on which policy is right for you.
- Healthier lifestyle. If you live a healthy lifestyle, you’re less likely to claim and therefore less of a risk to health insurers. In the world of insurance, risk equals low premiums. So if you’re looking to save money on your private health care policy then quit smoking and hit the gym.
How do I compare health insurance providers?
Now that you hopefully have an idea of the types of treatments you can get cover for with health insurance, you’re probably keen to dive right in and start comparing policies. However, there are still some final points to consider before you compare.
- Include all costs. Don’t forget, when adding up the price of your premiums to include additional costs that may also accompany your health insurance policy, including excess payments and/or administration fees.
- Know your claim limits. Each health insurance policy will have a maximum monetary amount for each claim. Make sure you are aware of the claim limits for each provider you compare.
What isn’t covered under health insurance?
There are some common policy exclusions when it comes to health insurance. Generally you would not receive cover for the following:
- A&E visits. Unfortunately, if you’re rushed to Accident and Emergency and treated, you won’t be able to claim on your health insurance.
- Chronic conditions. Health insurance does not cover conditions that are long term or cannot be cured, for example asthma or diabetes.
- Pre-existing conditions. Your health insurance won’t cover you for conditions that you had previously developed before your policy began.
- Organ transplants. You’re not likely to find health insurance cover for organ transplants.
- Cosmetic surgery to improve your appearance. This is also not something that health insurance usually covers, however many insurers will pay for ‘eligible’ surgery required to restore appearance following an accident or cancer surgery.
- Pregnancy or childbirth costs. Complications during pregnancy or childbirth may be covered by your insurer but delivery costs are normally exlcuded.
Pros and cons of health insurance
- Specialist treatments. Having health insurance could mean that you get access to some drugs or treatments that are not available under the NHS, often because they’re too expensive.
- Better facilities. Often you can get access to private rooms,
or same sex rooms. This isn’t always available under the NHS.
- Reduced waiting times & quicker diagnosis. One of the perks of opting for private health care is that is has much shorter waiting periods than the NHS. This also means that you’re likely to get a quicker diagnosis.
- Choice of hospital. In theory with private health care you can choose your surgeon or doctor as well as the hospital whereas with the NHS it’s pot luck.
- Pre-existing conditions. Health insurance cover does not cover you for pre-existing conditions, meaning any health condition you developed before the policy came into affect would not be covered. Each health insurer has slightly different interpretations and definition of a pre-existing condition, so it’s always worth checking with your specific insurer.
- The price. Health insurance cover can be expensive, especially if you’re reaching those later years in life. The price of private health insurance goes up with your age, so expect your premiums to rise each year.
- Cover limits. Limits apply to a lot of health insurance policies, so you’ll only ever receive cover up to a certain amount.
- Chronic conditions. Often chronic or ongoing conditions such as diabetes are not covered under health insurance. Health insurers generally won’t cover any condition that cannot be cured.
*Disclaimer: Please take reasonable care to answer all the questions honestly and to the best of your knowledge. If you don’t answer the questions correctly, your policy may be cancelled, or your claim rejected or not fully paid.
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