The National Health Service does a vital job, especially when its an accident or emergency. But its resources are stretched. Long delays for treatment and crowded and uncomfortable hospitals only increase the misery of illness.
Private medical insurance (PMI) is designed to help. It actually helps relieve the pressure on NHS facilities, by providing individuals and families with treatment from the private medical sector.
We look at the key reasons for considering private medical insurance.
- Prompt treatment.
Long waiting lists mean prolonged suffering and distress. Private treatment can be arranged swiftly. There’s a financial benefit if you can get prompt treatment. You can be back to fitness and back to work faster.
- Private facilities.
Your PMI will usually provide a private room for you, with ensuite facilities, rather than a bed on a ward that you would expect with the NHS. The increased privacy and comfort can greatly reduce the misery of being unwell.
- See a specialist.
Your GP can refer you to a private expert or specialist to get a second opinion or specialised treatment. You may be able to choose your surgeon or consultant.
- Tests and scans.
Your cover will let you have the tests you want, should the NHS refuse or delay them.
- Choose your hospital.
You’ll probably be able to choose a hospital to suit you, which is something that you cannot do with the NHS.
- Continuity of care.
You are likely to be seen by the same consultant throughout your treatment. This may improve outcomes, and can help give you reassurance during what is inevitably a stressful and worrying time.
- Access to specialist drugs and treatments
. Some specialist drugs aren’t available on the NHS for reasons of cost, or because they are not approved by the regulatory bodies. Your PMI may be able to give you access to treatments which would otherwise not be available.
Should you have PMI?
PMI is a sensible choice for many, but it might not be essential. The NHS will help, and if you are worried about your children, remember that they will get priority treatment through the NHS. You also may not need it if you’re able to pay for individual treatments as the need arises. If you have adequate savings it may be more cost-effective to pay for treatment privately rather than pay regular insurance premiums.
PMI does not cover certain conditions
PMI will not cover certain conditions. Pre-existing medical conditions are almost always excluded, as are chronic illnesses such as HIV/AIDs, diabetes and epilepsy.
Pregnancy and childbirth costs are excluded, along with injuries relating to dangerous sports. Organ transplants and cosmetic surgery are also outside the cover provided.
However, if you have no medical insurance through your employee benefits package you might want to include PMI in your overall financial protection plans.
Getting the cover you need
There are many PMI policies available with different levels of cover. These may let you choose out-patient treatment, day-patient and in-patient treatment. They are available as individual policies or as family policies, which include added benefits such as overnight accommodation for parents.
Naturally, the most comprehensive policies are usually the most expensive, but those with lower insurance premiums can still include an excellent range of benefits. If you have a good health history and no penchant for dangerous activities it is usually possible to arrange PMI that fits your budget.
For some professional advice about getting the PMI cover that is right for you and your family, talk to us at Continuum.