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Last updated: 23/07/2020 | Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Private medical insurance - things you need to know

Private medical insurance is designed to provide you with additional security and peace of mind when it comes to receiving healthcare. In this country we are lucky enough to have a National Health Service that provides medical attention that is free at the point of delivery, however many people still opt for private treatment because of the benefits that it has to offer.

Private medical treatment offers a few things that the NHS cannot, one the main things that private care can normally guarantee is a shorter waiting time than the NHS. This is due to the fact that private medical practices do not generally have long waiting lists. This means that you can often guarantee yourself a more rapid response to whatever illness it is that you may have.

If you opt for private medical insurance you should also be able to have a say in which hospital and with which consultant you receive your treatment. This is often one of the most attractive features of choosing this option as it allows you to choose the treatment location that is most convenient to you and your family members, along with choosing medical professionals that you are most comfortable with.

One of the other benefits that private medical insurance can offer its policy holders is the fact that you will normally be provided with your own private room as opposed to a shared ward. In addition to this you will normally be able to benefit from the privacy of an en suite bathroom as opposed to a shared one. Many patients prefer this as it affords them privacy at a time when they are at their most vulnerable and allows them peace and quiet when they are trying to recover.

This guide will explain exactly what you should expect to receive from a typical private medical insurance policy and what aspects of the policy you should check before you sign up to it.

In This Guide:

What to look for on a private medical insurance policy?

There is a general rule that applies to health insurance plans and that it that the older you get, the higher the cost of your policy. However this is not a steadfast rule and there are a few exceptions.

As with many different types of insurance, health insurance policies often come with an excess. The level of excess on a health insurance plan is the amount that you are required to pay before your insurance provider will then take over the payments. Generally speaking the higher your excess, the lower your monthly payments will be. This is because your insurance company will be at a smaller risk of having to pay out to cover your costs if you find yourself needing medical attention. One thing that you should make sure that you bear in mind is the fact if you choose to go for a higher excess in order to keep the cost of your plan down, you may end up paying for your own treatment for a while before your insurer picks up the bill for you.

You should always make sure that you find out what type of benefits your insurance plan will pay out for. There are many plans that may offer fairly low fees but will only cover your medical costs if you actually have to be admitted to hospital. This means that if you need medical attention but are only treated as an out-patient, you will not receive any financial aid from your health insurer. In reality, this type of plan is only usable in the most dire of circumstances and may not be of as much practical benefit to you as another alternative.

Another thing that you should make sure you enquire about before you sign up to a health insurance policy is whether or not you have any pre-existing conditions that will exclude you from taking out cover. Health insurance, contrary to popular belief, won't cover you for every single ailment that may befall you once the policy has started. Instead it is designed to provide treatment for you in the event that you suffer an acute condition after your policy starts. What this means in reality is that even if you have a fairly extensive private medical insurance policy, you may still need to go to the NHS for treatment in some cases.

Be aware that your premiums will most likely increase over time

With most forms of private medical insurance policy, the amount that you pay will go up as the years go by and you get older. However this is not purely due to the fact that you are ageing, as many people wrongly believe. Instead it comes about as result of general inflation and also due to the increasing costs of the methods used to diagnose the conditions that you may have. These increased overheads are then, unfortunately, passed on to the policy holder in the form of more costly premiums.

Whilst age is not the sole reason that your premiums will increase with time, it is still a factor and does play a part in the price of your health insurance policy. The reason for this is that as you get older you are more likely to require treatment and, as a result, your premiums will increase in order to reflect this. Health insurance works just like any other form of insurance insofar as the fact that the amount that you pay will be based upon how likely you are to claim, in the eyes of your insurer. This means that if your insurer views you as a higher risk candidate, they will charge you a higher rate in order to reflect that.