Whether or not the NHS is in terminal crisis remains to be seen, but hardly a week goes by without some bad news or other. Most recently, this has involved an especially acrimonious dispute involving young doctors.
The Independent newspaper carried a story on the 27th of April 2016, claiming that the NHS is being funded “on a wing and a prayer”, whilst at the same time trying to find £22 billion in so-called efficiency savings.
This is the uncomfortable – not to say extremely worrying – concern of any patient on a typically long waiting list for necessary treatment.
The attraction of private health insurance
Against this background and very real fears, many are turning to private medical insurance (PMI) – or at least considering the benefits of doing so. These include:
- access to a wider range of medical tests, more often, as and when you need them
- shorter waiting times
- access to drugs and treatments that might not be available on the NHS
- hospital stays in your own private, en-suite room
- 24-hour telephone advice and support
- your choice of leading private hospitals and, very often, your own personal choice of consultant.
Traditionally, private health insurance may have been considered an expensive luxury, but with a wide range of plans now available in the marketplace, private medical insurance can be very affordable.
According to the independent charity, the Kings Fund, there are around 4 million policy holders or subscribers to private health insurance in the UK and around 13% of non-emergency (or “non-elective”) surgery is funded privately.
The cost to the individual of private health care typically depends on age, your current state of health (and whether you have any pre-existing medical conditions) and lifestyle (whether you are a smoker, for example). The older the insured, the more expensive the premiums are likely to be.
Most providers offer a choice of different levels of cover – from more basic to fully comprehensive – which may influence the range of illnesses and conditions treated and, of course the cost of the premiums. As with many other types of insurance, however, there may be a trade-off between the price of the premiums you pay and the amount of excess you are prepared to bear.
Before making any decision about the health cover that might be for you, it is clearly important to compare as wide a range of plans – and prices – as possible. That is where we are able to help here at Over50Choices.
Drawing on our wide network of providers, we may make the comparisons on your behalf, taking into account your particular, highly individual, needs and requirements.
It is important to bear in mind that not every plan is going to cover every medical illness or treatment. Although the specific exclusions of course vary from one policy to another, private health insurance is typically not available for:
- chronic or long-term illnesses
- pre-existing medical conditions – those you had before taking out the health insurance
- fertility treatment
- cosmetic surgery
- psychiatric treatment.
Health cash plans
Another private health insurance option is a health cash plan. This is designed to cover the day-to-day costs of keeping healthy, such as dental and optical bills (including check ups) as well as treatments such as physiotherapy and podiatry etc.
Many people tend to complement their existing private medical insurance cover with a health care cash plan to enjoy all round financial protection for their health. You can read more about health cash plans here.
In summary, it may come as no surprise that many people are growing steadily more worried about the state of the NHS and whether it will be there for them when they need it. Against the background of such worries, private health insurance may prove a welcome comfort and reassurance.