The main advantage of private health insurance is the ability to beat long NHS waiting lists and get seen by a chosen consultant very quickly. Plus, if you have a huge medical expense and need some serious diagnostic treatment, medication and ongoing treatment, to have potentially tens of thousands covered when you are only paying around £1,500 per year (£125 per month) it can seem like a good investment.
However, there are cons, since it is an additional expense each month, which is hard in our current cost of living crisis and some insurers are very picky with what they cover, especially if it is a pre-existing condition.
The decision of whether or not to take out private health insurance will usually come down to an individual’s financial situation and priorities, and today, we look into the pros and cons to help guide your decision.
Why is Health Insurance Important?
Health insurance is becoming increasingly important for many people as we reassess our priorities in a post-COVID world. People are starting to become more aware about personal wellbeing and health and are choosing to invest their money on taking better care of themselves.
Isolated private treatments can be hugely unaffordable; however, taking out a private health insurance plan allows a fixed amount of money to be paid per month to cover healthcare costs. This negates the need to come up with a huge lump sum to pay for a treatment.
Health insurance is also becoming increasingly important as a company benefit, with many employees deliberately choosing to work for companies who can offer them comprehensive insurance plans. For more information, see business health insurance or financial assistance from work.
For those who are self-employed, private health care is a way of getting back on your feet faster and reducing the amount of time you are out of work.
What are the Advantages of Private Health Insurance?
There are many reasons why people choose to take out private health insurance policies including the following:
Coverage – private health insurance can cover, fully or partly, certain healthcare expenses. This means that by paying a fixed amount of money monthly or annually, you can cover doctor consultation, emergency room visits or even specialist treatments. Certain policies could also cover large medical bills such as surgery.
Choice – private coverage usually offers the patient more choice. For example, depending on the company, you can choose a location that is the most convenient for you, choose a time that suits you best and even choose the doctor for your consultation.
Speed – one of the main advantages of private health insurance is that you benefit from shorter wait times. Public doctors usually have lengthy waiting lists with some spanning multiple months.
What are the Disadvantages of Private Health Insurance?
Private health insurance is not for everyone and there are reasons why some people may choose not to take out a private health insurance policy:
Cost – the greatest disadvantage of private health insurance is the cost making it inaccessible for many people. Depending on the policy chosen, private health insurance can cost thousands of pounds per year and even more for family coverage. Even after the policy, there are certain co-payments and prescriptions that need to be paid for.
Limitations – the majority of health insurance policies will not offer full coverage when it comes to certain conditions and diseases. That means that for some individuals, who have specific illnesses, they cannot receive private health insurance coverage and must be out of pocket for treatment and services. This is known as pre-existing conditions and if you have ever had to claim for something before, you will unlikely be able to claim for it again. Some insurers will give you 2 or 3 years before you can claim again on something, but this can be very tricky with some insurers.
Waiting period – the waiting period is the specified amount of time you must wait before making a claim under the health insurance policy. This means if you are planning to take health insurance only at the time of illness, it will not be possible.
Increase in premiums – health insurance premiums will vary depending on an individual’s age and general physical state. The premium amount varies significantly between buying a health policy at the age of 30 and buying one after the age of 50.