Private health insurance is not a necessity but it may be something which can make your life a little easier. Whether you are tired of the NHS waiting lists, looking to stay in private hospitals rather than public hospitals, or you want specific medical treatments covered that you cannot get through the public service, you may want to consider taking out a private health insurance policy.
What is private health insurance for?
Private health insurance helps you pay, either partially or fully, for any medical bills you incur if you receive private treatment. Unlike public healthcare, you can choose the level of care that you get and have more flexibility about how and when you receive it. If you do not want to rely on the NHS, paying for private treatments without a private health insurance policy in place can be extremely expensive – especially if you are treating serious conditions.
What does private health insurance cover?
Your private health insurance cover will vary depending on the type of cover you choose as well as the provider and your specific circumstances. The more basic policies offered by insurance companies tend to include most of the costs associated with in-patient treatments. This can include things such as diagnostic tests and basic surgeries.
Some policies may also include out-patient treatments which would include appointments with specialists and consultants.
With mid-range cover, this includes both inpatient and outpatient treatment as well as diagnostic tests, consultation appointments and services such as physiotherapy. Some more advanced policies also include services for mental health such as psychiatry. With mid-range, there are still limits around the number of treatments you can have annually, ambulance transport, home nursing and which hospitals are available to you.
See the full list of things that private health insurance will cover.
What does private health insurance not cover?
Private health insurance will not typically cover private treatment for any of the following:
- Cosmetic surgeries
- The costs of normal pregnancy and childbirth
- Any pre-existing medical conditions
- Organ transplants
- Injuries from dangerous sports or war-related injuries
- Chronic illnesses including epilepsy, disabilities, illnesses relating to HIV/AIDs or high blood pressure
Do you need private health insurance?
In the UK, residents get free treatment courtesy of the NHS, so you don’t need to pay for any treatment or borrow money to pay for any operations or bills, like you would in the USA. You would only ever need private medical insurance if:
- You would prefer to use private hospitals instead of public hospitals
- You want a shorter waiting time than the NHS can offer
- You want to be covered for treatments or medications that you cannot get on the NHS
What are the advantages of private health insurance?
There are many reasons why people choose to opt for a private health insurance policy including:
Speed – one of the key benefits of private health insurance is that you usually benefit from much shorter waiter times than you would with the NHS meaning you can get your health issues dealt with much faster.
Coverage – private health insurance can cover certain medical bills, either partially or fully. When you pay for your private health insurance policy (a fixed amount per month or year), this will cover your private medical expenses and treatments.
Flexibility – private health insurance offers patients more flexibility and choice. They can usually choose the level of care they receive as well as when they are seen and how they are seen.
Access to specialists – through private health coverage, you can ask your GP to refer you to private experts or specialists for treatment or a second opinion.
Good investment – if you get very ill and need to have a lot of diagnostic tests and lots of regular care, your insurance can be a good investment, since you pay one fee per year e.g £2,000, but you may access more than £50,000 or £100,000 worth of care – however, this might be for more serious cases and illnesses. Plus, private hospitals tend to be a lot quicker when it comes to service, treatment and more comfortable in their surroundings.
Privacy – with private health coverage, you are more likely to get a private room which can be a game-changer if you are needing to spend a prolonged period of time in hospital care.
Physiotherapy and other specialist treatments – with private health insurance, you typically gain faster access to physiotherapy sessions as well as other specialist treatments.