What to consider when comparing health insurance
Aug 19, 2016
Funding of the National Health Service (NHS) might be increased by as much as £350 million a week, some Brexit campaigners seemed to suggest. Any such promises are likely to prove entirely misleading suggested the Independent newspaper on the day of the referendum, the 23rd of June 2016.
If you were worried about the standard and quality of your health care under the NHS before the referendum, therefore, you might still be worried about waiting times for the treatment or surgery you need, your ability to consult the medical experts and specialists you may need, and your access to drugs and procedures that have yet to be approved for use within the NHS.
In other words, you might still recognise the benefits of having your own private medical insurance.
If you have reached that conclusion, the choice of provider is clearly important, so what needs to be considered as you compare health insurance schemes on offer?
- as with any kind of insurance, it is important to know exactly what is covered by any particular health insurance plan – most cover essential treatment, but you might want to choose a more comprehensive plan that includes, for example, specialist therapies, access to a wider range of private hospitals or access to alternative medicines
- the level of cover of course helps to determine the amount you pay in premiums – the more comprehensive the cover, the more expensive you may expect the premiums to be
- your age and current state of health are also critical factors, especially with respect to illnesses or ailments you have suffered in the past – so-called pre-existing medical conditions
- you need to declare those pre-existing conditions and choose between one of two ways in which insurers typically treat them
- moratorium underwriting requires a less exhaustive investigation of your medical background and instead excludes cover for any medical condition for which you have received treatment, sought advice or taken medication in the previous number of years (the period varies from one health insurer to another, but typically extends for five years)
- alternatively, you might want what is called full medical underwriting, where the insurer provides cover based on your full and detailed medical history – so a full medical report, sometimes backed up through consultation with your own doctor – is required
- the insurer then provides cover based on this medical history and may exclude cover for certain illnesses or conditions from which you have suffered in the past
- whenever comparing and arranging health insurance, it is important to consider the role of specialist sites such as ours here at Over 50 Choices simply because this type of cover is almost always quite complicated and the risks of making an unwise choice are potentially very costly
- health insurance is quite different to other forms of general insurance, such as that for your home or your car – where you may simply switch cover to a different insurer at the next renewal date if you realise that a better or more suitable deal may be found elsewhere
- with health insurance, however, switching may be far less straight forward or feasible – not only might you have contracted additional pre-existing conditions when it comes time to switch, but you are also going to be older and, therefore, need to pay an increased premium in any event.
If you decide to pursue a private health scheme for you and your family, it is clearly important that you compare health insurance packages available – preferably with the help and guidance of experts with the relevant experience in making such comparisons.
Further reading: Guide to Private Health Care.