What is a Health Cash Plan?
Health cash plans are a cheap alternative to medical insurance and are ideal for routine procedures such as physio treatment, opticians and dental appointments.
Although we can try use the NHS as much as possible, it is sometimes impossible to get the right treatment you need without going private. If you have an emergency wisdom tooth or serious back pain, but don’t want to be on the waiting list for a number of months and don’t want to have to pay for health insurance, you can simply pay a few pounds a month for a health cash plan.
You can usually spend up to 6 times what you spend on them each year. So if you take out a plan for £100, you can spend up to £600 on dental, optical or physio costs, provided you use the plan effectively.
A Health Cash Plan Can Be Used For:
- Dental incl. check ups, X-rays, fillings, crowns, bridges, oral hygiene and teeth whitening
- Physiotherapy incl. osteopathy, chiropractors, acupuncture, homeopathy
- Optical incl. site tests, fitting fees, sunglasses, swimming goggles and contact lenses
- Foot incl. pedicures, chiropodists, podiatry
- New child – single payment paid on birth or adoption (policy must be active for at least 12 months)
- Hospital visits incl. overnight stays.
- Tests incl. allergy and blood tests
What Are The Benefits?
There is typically no medical examination required prior to getting a health cash plan so you can get the assistance you need regardless of your age or physical condition. It also means that you do not need to wait for a medical appointment and for the results to be sent to anyone. Similarly, there is no referral required beforehand from a GP or Consultant to see if you are eligible for a medical cash plan, speeding up the process.
This form of insurance is considerably cheaper than other private insurance plans and you have more flexibility. With private health insurance, the average premium is around £500 for a woman in her thirties, which she may not use for the entire year and only taken out ‘just in case.’ By comparison, a health plan allows you to spend what you can afford whether it is £50 or £100 and you are using it for a specific purpose coming up such as a dental appointment. Plus, you can get covered for basic procedures at your physio or dentist which private medical insurers may not even insure in the first place.
Further benefits include some plans coming with cashback so that you can receive a discount or money back into your debit account once your policy has gone through. Also, some employers may simply add it to your work package as some kind of ‘perk.’ So it is worth speaking to your employers or HR if this is the case.
How Does a Health Cash Plan Work?
Step 1: Purchase your policy on a monthly basis, using a direct debit.
Step 2: Arrange the treatment with your dentist, physiotherapist or optician and pay the provider once you have been treated. Make sure you keep the receipt.
Step 3: Send the receipt to your plan provider and you can reclaim the money you have spent. Simple.
How Much Does a Health Cash Plan Cost?
The best health cash plans vary between providers and start from as little as £6 per month with different levels available depending on your requirements. Anything that you do not use gets added up and can be utilised at a later date and multiplied by 6. Please find some example policies below:
The rates vary between providers such as Aviva offering adult plans based on 65p a day and SimplyHealth offering different levels ranging from £11.88 for level one up to £35.64 for level four, per month. Your premium will depend on the level of cover you require, with the more you pay, the higher the benefit level. Your age will have quite an impact on how much you will pay with those older, expected to pay for more. You must be aged between 18 to 65 to be eligible for a plan, however, if your cover has started and you turn 66, the insurer will usually let you continue as per usual.
You can also specify what you would like your payment to go towards. For instance, if you have good eyesight, there is no need to see an optician so regularly. Therefore, you can allocate a certain amount for a particular area such as a bad foot or back e.g £300 per year for the physiotherapist and £200 per year for the chiropodist, however, this will be your dedicated allowance and you will not be able to borrow from the other if you reach your limit.
Family Health Cash Plans
Children under the age of 18 are automatically included in a family plan. and partner too. Claiming for children might be restricted but even being able to claim for part of your child’s medical bill is still a positive.
Policies for couples are also available and you may receive a discount by having a joint plan. Even if you are are taking out an individual policy for yourself as one person, it may automatically include cover for your spouse and partner too.
What is The Difference Between a Health Cash Plan and Medical Insurance?
A health cash plan is more of a short term type of cover used for smaller treatments such as a dental procedure or one-off hospital visit. Medical insurance covers you for a lot more and also for more critical illness and larger claims e.g surgical procedures and more sophisticated examinations (i.e MRI).
The average cost per year is certainly different with individuals commonly paying £50 or £100 per month for a cash plan meanwhile a private cover can cost hundreds or thousands of pounds per year. In terms of getting the appointments, being private allows you to jump queues over those who are being treated on the NHS, and you get to choose which Consultant you use. Health plans do not allow you to queue jump or choose the practitioner that you may want, unless there is availability. Still, one of the benefits of a cash plan is not having to see a GP or get a referral before applying.
What is Not Covered in a Health Cash Plan?
There are a few exceptions to the cover available. Most insurers only provide cover for new medical conditions as one cannot expect them to expense the treatment for recurring illnesses or long-term treatment. You may need to provide proof from a GP or Consultant stating that your condition is new and not pre-existing.
Those aged over 65 years old are not eligible to apply unless they have an existing policy which they can continue when they are 66, 70 and so forth. Finally, semi-professional and professional athletes are not covered by these short term plans because they are more prone to recurring injuries that requires dental, optical or physical treatment.
Before rushing into a medical cash plan, it is also worth exploring other options such as private health insurance. The reason for this is because although it sounds cheap and a short term fix, there may be a waiting period of several months before it comes active (3-6 months in some cases). Depending on the insurer, you can be ready to go within one month.
Keeping receipts is essential to claiming back your treatment costs. You may also need to provide proof to the insurer that the practitioner is fully licensed and you have an actual condition, as this is a measure used to reduce fraud. You have to be proactive with your claiming because you will continue to be charged on a direct debit, and there are still several customers being charged and forgetting to claim!
Source: The Guardian