Private medical insurance (PMI) is an increasingly popular choice for a wide range of people who want more say in how, when and where they are treated for a variety of ailments and injuries.
While the National Health Service remains an essential safety net for all, many of us are increasingly seeing the benefits of taking out private medical insurance. Such cover can supplement what is available on the NHS. It gives peace of mind that we will be taken care of to a high professional standard without undue delay.
Taking out private medical insurance doesn’t mean making a choice between the NHS and the private system. With PMI, you’ll still have the same access to the NHS that you would otherwise have, but you won’t have to join a long waiting list to receive non-emergency treatment. Private treatment is available without insurance, but it will probably cost you more, especially if you need repeated appointments or long-term care.
You won’t have to join a long waiting list to receive non-emergency treatment
What private medical insurance provides is an increased number of options. You can use the NHS facilities that are available, but you can also shop around. You’ll have greater access to specialist treatments with reduced waiting times. Your insurance provider will pay for the treatment you require, subject to certain limitations (an excess might also apply to claims).
What is private medical insurance?
Private medical insurance is a health insurance policy that will pay for some or all of your medical bills if you decide to be treated privately. As with any insurance policy, the type of cover can vary from one provider to another, and there are often add-ons that can be selected for an additional premium. However, most policies cover the majority of in-patient treatments and day care surgery, while some also cover outpatient treatment, such as appointments with specialists and consultants.
Group medical insurance
Businesses often take out group medical insurance so that some or all employees are covered. This is considered a very attractive benefit in any employment contract. As well as helping the company to attract the best employees, making sure they have access to the best healthcare can also increase productivity and reduce absence. Different levels of cover can be made available within the company, with the policy tailored to suit.
What isn’t covered?
A standard private medical insurance policy generally won’t cover you for any illnesses or injuries resulting from a pre-existing condition. Failing to inform your providers about such a condition may invalidate the policy when it comes time to claim.
Chronic illnesses like AIDS, epilepsy and diabetes are also generally exempt, as are regular childbirth, non-essential cosmetic surgery and organ transplantation.
However, nothing is set in stone. The advantage of purchasing PMI through an established healthcare specialist is that you can put together a policy that’s personal to your circumstances. It can cover the eventualities you think you might need, at a price you can afford.
How health insurance works
The first step is to meet with an experienced healthcare specialist to discuss exactly what you need from your private medical insurance and what level of cover you can afford. They can help you put together a bespoke policy that will cover you as long as you keep paying the premiums on time. This means that if you fall ill or have an accident, you’ll have access to the best possible treatment with no further costs to pay. Any policy excess or treatment exceptions will be clearly set out in the terms of your policy.
You’ll have access to the best possible treatment with no further costs to pay
Having private medical insurance also gives you more say in your treatment. Because you’re in the private system, you’ll be treated as a valued customer and will receive a more personalised service, often with longer consultation times.
Why health insurance is important
Having a private medical insurance policy means that everything you’re entitled to is clearly specified in the terms and conditions, so there’s no doubt or uncertainty as to whether a particular course of action can be afforded.
As such, health insurance is about taking control of your life and assuming responsibility for your own well-being. It provides peace of mind not only for you but also for your family. If you fall seriously ill or are badly injured, your loved ones will worry about NHS treatment delays or limitations. PMI removes that worry. With private medical insurance, both you and they will know that you’re covered, and that the treatment you need will be paid for.