Have you decided to look for a health insurance plan in 2018? If so, what type and level of cover do you expect and how much are you prepared to pay for it?
In a market with a wide choice of different medical health plans, and the necessarily very personal and individual nature of the product, these are the questions likely to determine your assessment of the best health insurance quotes for you.
Before we start, it is important to note that what is the best health insurance for you may be different to what is the best health insurance for someone else – that is why understanding your options and getting health insurance quotes is essential.
Pressures on the National Health Service (NHS)
The middle of winter and every New Year sees an increase in significant pressure on the services provided by the NHS. 2018 has been no different. Indeed, this year has seen renewed complaints that the NHS is in crisis and one leading consultant has even apologised for what he described as the “third world conditions” it faces. The NHS struggles to deliver the minimum levels of care outlined, for example, in guidance published by Citizens Advice.
At the beginning of any year, there is typically an upsurge in the number of people applying for private health insurance quotes.
At the start of 2017, for example, the Guardian newspaper reported that the number of private health insurance quotes had risen by 2.1% – taking the number insured to some 4 million – as NHS waiting lists lengthened and restrictions were placed on the services available. In 2018 this trend is likely to intensify.
Choosing your health insurance
To pick your way through the maze of different health care plans available, it is essential to compare private health insurance for the policies most likely to suit your particular needs and circumstances and to identify competitive health insurance quotes.
Here are some of the considerations you may need to take into account when deciding which are the best health insurance quotes for you:
The type of cover
- fully underwritten medical health insurance requires that you provide a detailed and comprehensive medical history, sometimes complemented by a report from your GP;
- some or all pre-existing medical conditions may be permanently excluded from your cover;
- fully underwritten health plans typically offer more comprehensive cover – and are, therefore, generally more expensive;
- if you are relatively healthy or costs are a significant consideration, moratorium underwriting typically offers a cheaper alternative;
- this type of cover requires considerably less paperwork on pre-existing conditions, although all those (including relatively minor ailments) which have occurred in the past five years are likely to be excluded, explains the Net Doctor;
- nevertheless, the moratorium on your policy may not be permanent, and some pre-existing conditions may be covered once again once you have been free from any recurrence after, say, two years.
Levels of cover
To compare private health insurance quotes, you also need to consider the level of cover provided by any plan – the details are likely to vary widely:
- as a general principle, private health insurance is designed to cover acute conditions – those which develop suddenly, may be treated promptly, and in the majority of cases, cured;
- health insurance plans typically exclude treatment for chronic conditions (longer-term problems such as asthma, diabetes or kidney failure, requiring dialysis, which are likely to recur over the years, and are generally more difficult to cure);
- subject to these basic principles, lower-cost health insurance quotes are likely to include cover for the costs of all (or part of) private consultations, surgery, nursing and hospital care;
- the more you pay, typically the more elements of cover you may enjoy. For example, outpatient appointments, access to a wider range of private hospital facilities, complementary medicine, access to drugs and procedures otherwise unavailable from the NHS, and physical or financial support during your recuperation;
- don’t forget to look at the excess amount when getting your health insurance quotes, too. The excess is the first part of any successful claim that you will be liable for. When comparing health insurance quotes, make sure that you do so on a like for like basis – including the excess amount.
One of the main reasons for opting for private health insurance is the freedom from NHS waiting lists and being seen at a hospital location and time that suits you. As already mentioned, NHS waiting lists lengthen, especially at busy times of the year.
While on the subject of waiting lists, do note that you may find cheaper health insurance quotes if you opt for a policy that kicks in if you have been on an NHS waiting list for 6 weeks or more.
When you get to your appointment, you are also likely to find that private clinics and hospitals run on time and you may not need to spend such a long time waiting as in many NHS departments.
Your own consultant
With private health treatment, you are also likely to see the same consultant from the beginning of any tests and investigations right through to any procedures or surgery that is suggested – a frequent complaint from NHS patients, on the other hand, is this absence of consistency.
Comfort, privacy and a more personal service
Patients seeking private medical care and treatment also report generally higher levels of comfort and privacy, together with a more personal service from the health care professionals involved.
Which health insurance?
Depending on your reasons for seeking private healthcare and your expectations about the level of service to be delivered, there are many factors likely to determine the best health insurance for you.