Have you thought about buying a private medical insurance policy in the UK?
If you want to know 18 great reasons to make that purchase, please keep on reading……..
Peace of Mind
We are lucky in the UK to have a health system as brilliant as the NHS. Unfortunately the NHS resources are stretched, especially in 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic in full force. Private medical insurance gives you the peace of mind that you can access medical treatment when you need it most.
Rapid access to see a specialist
If a GP has told you that you need to see a consultant or specialist you can do so within days providing you have out-patients consultations covered on your policy. Whether you are choosing your own specialist or your policy has a guided option, you should not have to wait for months to see a specialist.
Speed of diagnostic testing
Once you have seen a consultant, they may want you to have a series of diagnostic tests. Whether it is MRI, CT or PET scans, blood tests, x-rays or biopsies, you can access diagnostic tests quickly and easily. You may have restrictions if you have a reduced out-patients benefit policy. If you have a policy with no cover for out-patients treatment at all, you would have to self-fund this element or use the NHS.
Remote access to primary care
The UK health insurers have really excelled with the access to qualified GP’s via mobile apps or telephone. With people struggling to get appointments with their NHS GP’s, more and more of us are relying on the remote access to primary care. Some providers offer unlimited access and others are limited. Check your policy terms and conditions to see what cover you have for remote private GP appointments.
Spreading the cost of private medical treatment
By paying a monthly premium you will spread the cost of your private medical treatment. Some people choose to self-fund but this can be costly. When it comes to treatment for heart, cancer or mental health conditions, this could become unaffordable. Cancer treatment can run into many thousands of pounds and therefore could become prohibitive for some people to pay on an ad-hoc basis.
Not joining the NHS waiting lists
There are always horror stories about the NHS waiting lists for non-urgent surgery. Especially relevant when we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals are having to make difficult decisions about which patients to treat and of course, non-life threatening surgery is the first to go on hold.
NHS maximum waiting times for non-urgent referrals is 18 weeks from referral date.
NHS maximum waiting times for urgent cancer referrals is 2 weeks from when the hospital receives your referral letter.
In practice however, 18 weeks for non-urgent referrals is currently not achievable.
The NHS website allows you to check the waiting times in your area. For information purposes only I have looked at the waiting times for an arthroscopy of the knee in and around the Chelmsford area.
Current waiting times for 9/10 patients are as follows:
- Chelmsford, Essex, 38 weeks
- Brentwood, Essex, 33 weeks
- Southend, Essex, 41 weeks
- Harlow, Essex, 52 weeks
- Romford, Essex, 46 weeks
- Ilford, Essex, 46 weeks
If you would like to find out more information about the NHS waiting times in your area, please refer to the link below:
It is also important to remember however that private medical insurance does not replace the NHS. Some medical issues such as A & E and the routine monitoring and medication of chronic conditions would always be dealt with by the NHS.
Being able to decide when you have your treatment
Having private medical insurance means that you can decide when you have your appointment with a consultant. You can also opt for a convenient time for diagnostic testing and surgery if required. This is a real plus for many people. Whilst the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing however, there may be times where appointments are restricted. This will be very much hospital and geographical area dependent.
Choice of Hospitals
Private medical insurance gives you access to some of the best hospitals and medical facilities in the UK. When you need to have treatment for a medical condition, you can choose which hospital you attend. You need to ensure it is within the hospital list you have attached to your cover. Being treated at a hospital close to home is a priority for many people. Depending on the medical condition you have, you may prefer to have your treatment in a hospital that specialises in that area of medicine.
Having access to online health and wellbeing guidance
Online health and wellbeing advice is a big part of your health insurance in 2020. Insurers are providing their members with help and guidance with all areas of physical and mental health. Easy to use, simple to navigate and all available at a time convenient to you.
Use of 24/7 telephone helplines
Helplines are available on most private medical insurance policies. Members can use these helplines for help relating to specific medical worries, queries about medication or treatment. Helplines are accessible 24/7, 365 days per year.
Full cancer cover
Cancer cover is one of the most sought after private medical insurance benefits. Many people who ask about health insurance ask us about cover for cancer. Each insurer offers different levels of cancer cover however, for access to new medications and treatments that are not available via the NHS due to cost, health insurance comes into its own.
Even if your policy has a low out-patients limit, you would still have full cover for out-patients treatment for cancer once diagnosis has been confirmed.
Even biological therapies such as Herceptin or Avastin that are used to kill cancer cells will be available, quite often with no time limit either!
Monitoring and follow up reviews with a consultant will be available to you for many years – in some cases for as long as you need it and your cover remains in place.
Each insurer has their own terms and conditions in relation to cancer cover and it is shown separately within their literature for clarity. Some insurers will let you remove cover for cancer treatment if you are happy to use the NHS or reduce the cancer cover limits. This is generally used by members as a cost control option.
Priority mental health access
Mental Health cover is often optional in UK private medical insurance. When you buy your policy think about whether you want to include cover of this type. If you do opt for cover that encompasses mental health and psychiatric conditions, you will have easy and simple access to excellent mental health treatment should you ever need to use it. Insurers recognise that asking for help for this type of medical condition is never easy. Depending on which provider you have chosen, you may even be able to call directly rather than wait for a GP referral.
Home nursing facilities when necessary
Where appropriate and recommended by your consultant you may be able to access home nursing treatment. This could be for treatments such as chemotherapy or intravenous antibiotics administered by a qualified nurse.
Cover for complications of pregnancy and childbirth
Standard UK private medical insurance policies do not cover routine pregnancy and childbirth. Health insurance is designed to cover the treatment of acute medical conditions and pregnancy and childbirth therefore would not fall into this criteria.
What you will find is that they will offer cover for complications of childbirth and pregnancy such as ectopic pregnancy, retained placenta and hydatiform mole.
Each insurer will have their own rules about what they will cover for complications of pregnancy and we would recommend that you refer to their terms and conditions.
Access to oral surgery
When you have seen your dentist and he tells you that you need oral surgery, what happens next? Most health insurance policies in the UK will cover you for oral surgery and therefore you should have no problems accessing the treatment you need. Some providers cover oral surgery within their core benefits and others show this as an additional benefit that you opt to include. Aviva even give you the option to remove cover for oral surgery within their benefit reduction option 7 as a way to lower your costs. Before you go ahead with your oral surgery treatment, double check the terms and conditions of your policy.
Private patient visiting hours are often not restricted. If we look at Springfield Hospital in Chelmsford as an example, visitors of private patients can arrive at any reasonable time of the day before 9pm. Private patient visitors can even eat meals with the patient they are visiting (although the cost of this would not be covered by the private medical insurance policy) NHS patients at Springfield Hospital can only have visitors between 2pm and 4pm and 6pm and 8pm in line with NHS visiting hours.
You may find that visiting hours are restricted whilst the COVID-19 pandemic is still active even in private facilities. It is essential that you check with the hospital or facility prior to arranging visiting in 2020.
This may not be the number 1 reason why people choose to buy a private medical insurance policy but we believe it is important. Having access to great quality food (often restaurant quality) helps you to increase your appetite. When you have had surgery and are not feeling great, being able to choose what you want for a meal can make a real difference.
Your own room
When you are feeling poorly, do you really want to be on a general ward whilst waiting for your surgery?
After your surgery has been complete, would you prefer to recover in the privacy of your own room?
Some people don’t mind the hustle and bustle of a hospital ward. Recovering in privacy (with your own TV) is however, a real bonus. Private bathroom and direct dial telephone facilities are included in the majority of private medical insurance policies.
If you would like help finding the right private medical insurance, the team at SMP Healthcare can help you. Between us we have many years’ experience in the health insurance sector. As an independent broker we have no affiliation to any insurer and our advice is therefore totally without bias.
Contact us if you are looking for an individual, family, small business or corporate policy. We are confident in the services that we can provide.
Please contact us for more information on 0800 047 0127 or 01245 929129 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org