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Health Insurance

A comprehensive guide on health insurance

What is health insurance?

Health insurance, commonly referred to as private medical insurance (PMI), allows UK policyholders to access a range of private healthcare services, instead of using the NHS for treatment. Different levels of insurance are available and often cover everything from diagnostics to treatment.

As a policyholder, you will pay a monthly premium to a policy provider, and in return, when you need healthcare, you can use the insurance to cover the cost.

Although the NHS covers all UK citizens for the majority of their healthcare needs, you might want access to private healthcare treatments, which can be expensive without insurance to cover. With private medical insurance, you can benefit from shorter wait times, faster diagnosis and better facilities.

Health insurance policy coverage can include cover for a wide range of options, including dental, optical, physiotherapy, and doctor/hospital appointments. Depending on the policy you take determines what the insurance will cover.

Health insurance doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll stop using the NHS services. It can act as a supplementary service that provides access to treatments and services not fully covered by the NHS.

Working with an Independent Qualified Advisor

Although the agreement is between you and the insurance underwriter, it's often common and beneficial to work with an Independent Qualified Advisor, who will act on your behalf to find the best deal on the market for your circumstance. The advisor will act as a bridge between you and the underwriters, so they will ask you the questions required by the underwriter to generate a quote. The advisor will be rewarded by getting a pay-out from the underwriter, often there would be no cost to you for the use of their service and you get the benefit of their access to the whole market, which won’t be accessible to you without them.
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What are the main benefits of health insurance?

1. Supplementing NHS Care: Health insurance in the UK is often used to supplement the services offered by the NHS. While the NHS provides comprehensive healthcare services, some individuals opt for private health insurance to gain access to additional benefits, such as quicker appointments, a choice of specialists, and access to private hospitals.
2. Private Medical Treatment: With health insurance, policyholders can receive private medical treatment, including consultations, tests, surgeries, and hospital stays, in private healthcare facilities. This can lead to shorter waiting times for certain procedures.
3. Choice and Flexibility: Health insurance allows individuals to choose the healthcare provider, specialist, and hospital for their treatment. This can be particularly advantageous for those who prefer a specific doctor or hospital or want to explore alternative treatments.
4. Covered Services: The services covered by health insurance can vary based on the policy and the insurance provider. Coverage can include treatments like elective surgeries, diagnostics, cancer treatments, physiotherapy, mental health services, and more.

5. Costs and Premiums: Health insurance policyholders pay regular premiums to their insurance provider. The cost of premiums depends on factors such as the level of coverage, the policyholder's age, health status, and any additional features or options chosen.
6. Exclusions and Waiting Periods: Health insurance policies may have exclusions for pre-existing conditions or certain treatments. Some policies also have waiting periods before coverage begins for specific conditions or treatments.
7. Complementary Insurance: Some health insurance policies in the UK offer complementary services, such as dental care, optical care, and wellness programs
Further reading: What is an IFA?

What are the steps to taking out health insurance?

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Fill in a web application

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Speak to an independant advisor

Find a product that works for you

Find a product that works for you

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What are the types of cover you can get?

PMI (also known as Private Health Insurance), comes in various forms to cater to different healthcare needs and preferences. Here are some common types of PMI plans available in the UK:

  1. Standard Private Medical Insurance: This type of PMI provides coverage for inpatient and outpatient treatments, including consultations, diagnostics, surgeries, and hospital stays. It offers a comprehensive range of medical services and is a popular choice for those looking for overall healthcare coverage.

  2. Inpatient-Only Insurance: This type of PMI focuses solely on covering treatments that require hospitalization, such as surgeries and medical procedures that involve staying overnight in a hospital.

  3. Outpatient Insurance: Outpatient PMI covers consultations, diagnostics, and treatments that don't require hospitalization. It's suitable for individuals who primarily seek coverage for consultations and tests.

  4. International Health Insurance: Geared towards individuals who travel frequently or live abroad, international health insurance provides coverage both in the UK and overseas. It may include emergency medical care, routine check-ups, and treatments in other countries.

  5. Cancer Cover: Some PMI plans offer specialized coverage for cancer treatments, including diagnostics, surgeries, chemotherapy, and other related services. This type of coverage can provide additional financial support for cancer care.

  6. Therapies and Alternative Medicine: Certain PMI plans cover complementary therapies such as physiotherapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and other alternative treatments.

  7. Cash Plans: Cash plans provide a fixed sum of money for specific treatments, such as dental check-ups, optical care, or complementary therapies. Policyholders can use the cash benefit for these treatments, regardless of where they receive them.

  8. Family Health Insurance: Family PMI covers multiple family members under a single policy. It provides medical coverage for parents and children, often offering discounts for insuring multiple individuals.

  9. Individual Health Insurance: Individual PMI provides coverage for a single policyholder. It's suitable for those who want personalized healthcare coverage tailored to their needs.

  10. Group Health Insurance: Group PMI is typically offered by employers to provide healthcare coverage for their employees and sometimes their dependents. It can offer more affordable rates and easier enrolment.

  11. Dental and Optical Cover: Some PMI plans offer coverage specifically for dental and optical treatments, including routine check-ups, treatments, and prescription glasses or contact lenses.

When selecting a PMI plan, it's essential to carefully review the coverage options, limits, exclusions, waiting periods, and costs associated with each type of policy. Different insurance providers may offer variations within these categories, so it's advisable to compare multiple plans and consult with insurance professionals to find the best fit for your healthcare needs and budget.

What is covered

The policy provider may let you select what additional health services you want to be covered for, which could include the following:

  •  Dental treatments, including dental accidents
  •  Optical treatments including eye tests, glasses, repairs and surgery
  •  Health screenings
  •  Specialist consultations (including diagnostics and tests)
  •  Wellbeing (physiotherapy, chiropractic, acupuncture)
  •  Complimentary therapies
  •  Chiropody
  •  Hospital in-patient allowance for stays in private and NHS hospitals
  •  Day case allowance
  •  Prescriptions
  •  Access to telephone GP or nurse advice

What isn't covered

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, the policy provider might not cover you. You might also not be able to get cover for the following:

  •  Ongoing incurable diseases
  •  Drug/drink rehabilitation
  •  Treatments you choose to have electively, such as cosmetic surgery
  •  Emergency treatments, as the NHS covers these
  •  Treatments abroad, which should be covered by travel insurance.

How much does health insurance cost?

The cost of Private Medical Insurance (PMI) in the UK can vary widely based on several factors. Insurance providers assess these factors to determine the premium you'll pay for your PMI coverage. Here are the main factors that influence the cost of PMI:
1. Age: Age is a significant factor in determining PMI premiums. Generally, younger individuals tend to have lower premiums compared to older individuals because they are less likely to have pre-existing conditions and require extensive medical care.
2. Health Status: Your current health condition and medical history play a crucial role in determining PMI costs. Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions or a history of health issues may have higher premiums. Insurance providers may ask you to undergo medical underwriting to assess your health risk.
3. Coverage and Plan Type: The type and extent of coverage you choose will impact your premium. More comprehensive plans that cover a wide range of treatments and services typically come with higher premiums. Plans that cover only specific treatments or have limited coverage options may have lower premiums.
4. Location: The cost of healthcare services can vary by region within the UK. Premiums may be influenced by the cost of medical care in your area.
5. Deductibles and Excess: A deductible (known as an excess in the UK) is the amount you agree to pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. Plans with higher deductibles or excesses tend to have lower premiums, but you'll need to pay more upfront if you require medical care.
6. Co-Payments and Coinsurance: Co-payments (fixed fees for each medical service) and coinsurance (a percentage of the cost of care) can affect premiums. Plans with higher co-payments or coinsurance may have lower premiums but may require you to pay more when you receive medical services.
7. Add-Ons and Extras: Some PMI plans offer additional features or extras, such as dental coverage, optical care, alternative therapies, and wellness programs. Adding these extras to your policy can increase your premium.
8. Annual or Monthly Payment: The frequency of premium payments can influence the overall cost. Paying annually may offer a discount compared to monthly payments.
9. Family or Individual Coverage: The number of individuals covered under the policy affects the premium. Family coverage that includes multiple individuals may have higher premiums compared to individual coverage.
10. Waiting Periods: Some PMI plans may have waiting periods before you can access certain treatments or services. Plans with shorter waiting periods may have higher premiums.
11. Discounts: Some insurance providers offer discounts for various reasons, such as a no-claims bonus or if you're a member of a particular group, organization, or employer scheme.
12. Lifestyle Factors: Certain lifestyle factors, such as smoking or having a sedentary lifestyle, can impact your premium. Insurance providers may offer better rates to individuals who maintain a healthy lifestyle.

How do I get started with taking out health insurance?

We work with a team of professional health insurance advisors who have access to a range of policy providers. This means they can consider your unique circumstances and recommend the right health insurance policy for you.   All our partners are FCA regulated and work with the likes of Aviva, BUPA and other trusted brands in the health insurance market. Unlike a comparison site, our experts will be able to answer all your queries and provide tailored advice.   If you would like to speak to one of our professional advisors about what is available, contact us for more information.

Things to be aware of

  • Your policy might have an excess charge that you should be aware of if you make a claim.
  • You should check exactly what you’re covered for to make sure you don’t get any nasty surprises.
  • Some treatments may be better off on the NHS. In some cases, opting for private healthcare might not necessarily be the best option, depending on the treatment required.

Can I get health insurance for my family?

You can take out private health insurance policies for you, your partner and your children if you want your whole family to be covered.

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