The NHS has long had a reputation for offering some of the best healthcare in the world. In recent years, the economic situation against a backdrop of rising demand is putting enormous pressure on NHS finances. News reports of lengthy waiting lists and postcode lotteries pose a worrying question as to what will happen to us if we were to get sick.
While NHS treatment is free, the legal right to start non-emergency NHS consultant-led treatment is within 18 weeks of referral. A growing number of people are turning to the private health insurance market for peace of mind.
We’ve put together some tips to help you make an informed choice when buying private health insurance.
1 – Be sure to check what the policy covers and exclusions. You’ll want to know how the insurer will deal with pre-existing medical conditions, and any limitations. Before you take out any plan, find out about cancer care, as well as consultant and anaesthetists fees.
2 – Don’t use comparison websites – private health insurance is a complex product and it doesn’t lend itself well to simple comparisons. It’s a good idea to speak to a health insurance broker, especially if you have pre-existing medical problems or need specialist cover (most private medical insurance policies won’t cover pre-existing or chronic health conditions).
3 – Don’t be fooled into switching providers like you do with car or home insurance. Leaving your current provider to get a better deal isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Conditions you have developed over the life of your existing policy may not be covered by a new provider (they’ll be considered pre-existing conditions). Speak to your broker for advice.
4 – Always take independent advice. Going directly to a single health insurance provider won’t necessarily make it cheaper. A broker can help you find the best policy for you and will review your policy at renewal dates to make sure you continue to get good value.
5 – If you travel abroad with work, then check with your broker if you can opt for a single international policy to cover you both overseas and at home.
6 – If you are self-employed you may want to consider life and family protection insurance to provide you with an income should you become critically ill, or in the event of your death. It can be reassuring to know that your family will be looked after financially if you are unable to support them due to ill health.
7 – Once you’ve picked a policy, refine it. You can start by considering the choice of hospitals. You may be able to cut costs if you choose a smaller list or a designated hospital. You may also be able to choose your plan excess, and whether you pay that annually or each time you claim. Restricting when you use the policy can also help to reduce premium costs.
8 – While it’s not a good idea to base your decision solely on gimmicks, some insurance policies do offer so-many-months free cover, which can significantly reduce the first year’s overall cost. Paying up front for the whole year, or by monthly direct debit may also give you discounts.
9 – Stay as healthy as you can! Many policies give you discounts if you stay healthy.
For an informal chat about a wide range of policies available in the market, speak to one of our experienced advisers – call 0800 849 7744 today or get a free, no obligation quote here.