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Before you take out private health insurance you need to ensure it is worth paying for. The value you get from it will depend on your requirements, expectations and the policy you take out. Below we discuss more about private health insurance to help you decide if it is the right choice for you.

What is private health insurance?

Private medical insurance is used to pay part, or all of, your medical bills when you undergo private treatment. The amount of coverage it provides depends on the level of care you pay for and the type of treatment you require. You will have the option to either pay for your private health insurance monthly or annually, with policies available for individuals, couples or families.

What are the benefits of private health insurance?

  • One of the main reasons people choose to take out private health insurance is because it can provide faster access to treatment compared to the NHS. Non-urgent, consultant-led treatments have a maximum wait time of 18 weeks from diagnosis. 9 out of 10 patients are seen within this time, however, if you’ve waited more than 6 weeks you can use your insurance to speed up the wait time.
  • Private health insurance can be used to pay for specialist drugs or scans that the NHS are not able to provide.
  • If you want a second, or specialist, opinion you can ask your GP to refer you to a private consultant.
  • Most private hospitals will give you a private room so you do not have to spend time staying on a mixed ward.
  • Your cover may give you the option to choose the hospital and even the surgeon who will operate on you.
  • Patients in need of physiotherapy will likely find they are able to access treatment faster than on the NHS.

What type of conditions does private health insurance cover?

The type of care provided by private health insurance depends on the policy you take out. Most basic polices will cover things like tests, scans, basic surgery and in-patient care (admission into hospital). More expensive options will extend this to include outpatient care which includes paying for use of consultants and specialists, while the most expensive policies will help pay for more serious conditions such as cancer treatments.

What doesn’t private health insurance cover?

There will be slight variances from provider-to-provider, but in general terms they tend not to cover:

  • Chronic conditions: If there is no known cure for the condition the policy will not provide coverage.
  • Emergency treatment: Being treated unexpectedly for a medical condition may not be included.
  • Pre-existing conditions: Patients who already have a condition before the policy was taken out may not be able to get full coverage. However, this may not be the case for some minor pre-existing conditions.

Always be sure to ask for and check the full list of conditions the proposed private health insurance policy will cover. While they are largely the same for most providers, there can be important differences in some and you want to ensure you are happy to pay for the coverage being made available to you.

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