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Latest News Understanding health insurance when self-employed

Understanding health insurance when self-employed

When you’re self-employed, illness or injury can hurt your business and health. With this in mind, private health insurance might be something to consider as it could help you bypass lengthy waiting times, enabling you to get back on your feet quickly. Here’s how it works and what to think about.

What is self-employed health insurance?

Self-employed health insurance is private medical insurance (PMI) which covers acute health conditions to protect you and your business. These are conditions that get better or are cured with treatment, for example, a broken bone.


Do I need health insurance if I’m self-employed?

NHS care is free for anyone classed as ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK. This fundamentally covers anyone who has the legal right to live here. So, if you run your own business and are ordinarily resident, you don’t need to pay for private healthcare.

However, private medical insurance is worth considering if you want the peace of mind and speed of treatment that private cover often provides. For example, PMI usually offers GP access 24/7 and helps you avoid lengthy NHS waiting lists if you need surgical treatment.

If you’re self-employed, quick diagnosis and treatment could get you back to work faster, ensuring your business doesn’t suffer.


What does self-employed health insurance cover?

PMI primarily covers the diagnosis, treatment, and care of acute conditions, for example, hernias, cataracts, and broken bones. Cancer and mental health cover is often included, but this will differ depending on the provider.

You’ll also be able to choose additional features related to the type of care and treatment you receive. As you’d expect, the more options you choose, the higher your private medical insurance policy premiums will be.

Features and benefits that PMI policies often include:

  • GP access 24/7
  • Diagnostic tests and consultations
  • Treatment
  • Mental health support
  • Stress management support
  • Therapies such as physiotherapy, acupuncture, and osteopathy
  • Choice of hospitals
  • Choice of consultant

You’ll also usually be given the option of adding others to your policy, such as a partner or children, although this will increase what you pay.

Some providers will let you add a health cash plan to your policy (these can also be bought separately). Cash plans help pay for routine health appointments, for example, the dentist or optician.


What isn’t covered by self-employed health insurance?

Private health insurance doesn’t normally cover chronic or pre-existing conditions. Chronic conditions are illnesses that currently have no cure and are managed with medication or therapy, such as diabetes, arthritis, and asthma.

If you’ve been treated for a particular illness before, this will usually be classified as a pre-existing condition and excluded from your policy. For example, if you’ve had treatment for anxiety, this won’t be covered by your policy unless you go without symptoms for a certain period of time (typically two years). After that period, your health insurer may decide to cover you for it.

It’s also worth noting that PMI doesn’t cover emergency treatment, which is available from the NHS. You also aren’t covered for pregnancy unless there are complications, for example, miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, or a retained placenta.


What other types of insurance should I consider if I’m self-employed?

If you’re considering all your options, insurance products you might find beneficial if you’re self-employed include:

Life insurance

If you pass away, life insurance pays your beneficiaries a lump sum.

It’s up to you who your beneficiaries are, but it’s typically dependents such as your partner or family.

In most cases, life insurance payments go towards large loans or expenses, such as a mortgage or university fees.

Critical illness cover

Critical illness cover provides a one-off payment if you’re diagnosed with a condition or illness specified in the policy.

When you buy the policy, you’ll agree on the payment amount. The more it is, the higher you can expect your premium to be. Insurers will also base your policy cost on factors such as your age and medical history.

Income protection

Income protection provides regular payments if you cannot work because of illness or injury. Payouts can be up to 75% of your usual salary, as it’s tax-free.

Most policies will only pay out for a certain length of time, for example, one or two years; however, some policies can also last until you retire.

Income protection is not the same as critical illness, although the two are easily confused. The difference is that income protection provides regular payments until you get back to work (or retire), while critical illness only provides a one-off lump sum.


How much does health insurance for the self-employed cost?

The cost of private medical insurance depends on several factors. Most providers will consider your location and age, but other consider your overall health, and occupation. The type of policy you choose will also have a big influence on premiums – the more features you have, the more you can expect it to cost.

If you decide to buy a business private healthcare policy instead of a personal policy, it could also mean you’re eligible for tax relief. This is because PMI can be deemed a business cost, as your health is likely to directly impact your business. To help you get the most out of your policy, speak to the insurer or ask your broker about tax-efficient PMI plans.


What are the main benefits of self-employed health insurance?

One of the biggest benefits of private health insurance is that you’ll be able to access medical advice and treatment when you need it. Most policies include access to a GP or nurse via video call seven days a week, enabling you to discuss any health concerns as soon as possible.

PMI also means you avoid lengthy surgical waiting lists. Not only that, if your policy allows you to choose the hospital location, you can also ensure that you’re treated close to home.

Another advantage is that while cancer can be considered a chronic condition, it’s often covered in PMI policies (unless it’s pre-existing). If your policy does include cancer care, it may also give you access to treatment that isn’t currently available on the NHS.



Is private health insurance tax deductible in the UK for the self-employed?

If you run your own limited company or are a sole trader, you’ll need a business health insurance policy for it to be considered tax deductible. As an insurance broker, we’ll be able to take you through the options available to you.

Can you buy PMI if you are self-employed and have a pre-existing condition?

If you’ve got a pre-existing medical condition, you should still be able to find private medical insurance; just bear in mind that those illnesses will typically be excluded.

The good news is that after a certain amount of time (usually two years) if you have no recurrence of your pre-existing condition, your insurer will often reinstate cover for it. This will enable you to make a claim for treatment in the future.

Can you pay monthly for private healthcare if you are self-employed?

Yes. In most cases, you’ll be given a choice of paying for cover monthly or annually. It’s worth knowing that paying monthly could cost slightly more if your health provider adds interest.

Can you claim dental expenses if you are self-employed?

As a general rule, dental care is not included as part of PMI. Instead, you’ll need to add dental insurance to your private healthcare plan (if it’s an option) or consider a separate dental policy.

As with any type of insurance product, it’s important to check what’s covered by your dental policy. For example, cash plans cover the cost of routine appointments and may offer limited help with the cost of treatment.

Speak to a broker for bespoke health insurance advice

When it comes to PMI, there are numerous policies to choose from. This can make finding the right option time-consuming and confusing, but an insurance broker can help you, taking you through what’s available and explaining the pros and cons.

You can speak to an expert at Alan Boswell Group on 01603 967955 for tailored advice.

Related products: Private Medical Insurance