Who needs private health insurance? If the NHS – in some form or another – is always there and free at the point of delivery, why go private? Free at the point of delivery, together with the philosophy that the service meets the needs of everyone and that treatment should be based on clinical need rather than the ability to pay have continued to be the founding principles of the NHS.
These positives are recognised by health insurance schemes, which do not attempt to replace the NHS but actually add to it. And the principal addition made by private health plans comes through the nature and range of choices which may be made.
Examples of some of those choices lie in:
- the ability to sidestep lengthy NHS waiting lists by arranging private consultations and specialist appointments;
- this gives you access to the consultants and specialists of your choice;
- the choice – in some cases, depending on your plan – of hospital at which you may be treated;
- a choice of the appointment times that suit you;
- a choice of treatment in a private hospital (typically well-appointed ensuite rooms), a private room or ward in an NHS hospital;
- unrestricted visiting times; and
- access to new treatments and drugs which might not be available on the NHS.
With all these benefits on top of the services already provided by the NHS, it may come as little surprise that more and more people are thinking about arranging their own private health insurance – according to a story in the Telegraph newspaper on the 9th of May 2016.
How much is it going to cost?
Traditionally, people might have been put off health insurance in the belief that it is invariably expensive. With the development and sophistication of different plans, however, insurance may be tailored to suit many different pockets, according to the level of cover required.
The principal factors determining how much you pay are likely to be your own personal circumstances, such as:
- your age – not surprisingly, premiums increase the older you grow, and the more likely you may be to succumb to an illness or other medical condition;
- your current state of health – assessed by a full medical history (a fully underwritten plan), on the basis of which an insurer may decide what health risks are covered and which excluded, or on the basis of excluding cover temporarily for pre-existing illnesses or conditions (a moratorium plan); and
- a number of lifestyle choices you might have made – typically, for example, whether you have chosen to smoke.
Each health plan is different, of course, but it might be helpful to be warned about those illnesses and conditions typically excluded from any form of cover.
These include long-term or chronic conditions (which you may want to have treated still on the NHS), psychiatric treatment, fertility treatment or cosmetic surgery.
Before choosing the appropriate health insurance plan to suit your needs, of course, it is important to understand thoroughly just what illnesses and medical conditions are covered and those which are likely to be excluded.