The number of people taking out private health insurance has soared to record highs in response to this winter’s crisis in the National Health Service (NHS), wrote the Guardian newspaper on the 16th of January 2017.
More than 5 million people in the UK now have some level of private health insurance, says the Consumers’ Association’s Which? magazine.
The case for private medical insurance
Press reports on the difficulties faced by the NHS have focused on lengthening waiting times and the need by some health care trusts to delay or cancel non-urgent medical procedures and surgery.
The benefits you enjoy from health insurance depend very much on your chosen insurer and the particular plan you have arranged. Benefits commonly enjoyed, however, include:
- accelerated referral for treatment (beating NHS waiting times);
- access to leading specialists and consultants, with some insurance plans offering your choice of consultant and private hospital;
- access to treatments and drugs which might not yet be available on the NHS; and
- the use of private hospitals, where you have your own en suite room, better quality food, a TV and telephone.
Types of health insurance
Choosing between the many different health insurance schemes on offer is further complicated by your having to opt for one of two basic types of cover:
- fully underwritten insurance, which provides the most comprehensive form of cover, which therefore costs more and requires that you give the insurer a full and detailed medical history; or
- moratorium insurance, which may exclude any pre-existing medical conditions, but is cheaper and requires a less detailed medical investigation.
Helping you choose
With a difficult choice to make between fully underwritten and moratorium insurance, plus such a wide range of differing benefits, you may find it very difficult to compare health insurance in any confident, reliable and meaningful way – other than the simple principle of generally gaining greater benefits the more you pay in premiums.
That is when you might want to call on the services of a specialist, comparison website, where an expertise and experience in the whole market of private health insurance may be brought to bear in making those comparisons entirely on your behalf.
Such a comparison helps to cast light on the essential differences between competing plans, and the levels of benefits available, in such key areas as:
- outpatient treatment
- day patient treatment; and
- inpatient treatment.
You will then be provided with quotations indicating competitive prices for the level of health insurance you need, but you still have the option of reducing the costs still further – for example, by agreeing to:
- opt for NHS treatment if the waiting time is less than a given period;
- limit your choice to a selected number of private hospitals only;
- an additional amount in excess you pay on each claim; or
- pay an agreed proportion of the total cost of any treatment or procedure that is carried out under the terms of your health insurance.
Comparing health insurance, therefore, involves a large number of variables, a wide range of providers and a selection of different plans. Independent advice and comparison may help you to make the suitable choice for your needs and circumstances.