It’s all too easy to take our health for granted, with a vague feeling that the NHS will take care of us if we fall ill.
Of course, they will do their best – but an ageing population, budget cuts and staff shortages are putting increased pressure on public health services, and the NHS is struggling.
With long waiting times to see a GP let alone get a hospital appointment, it is hardly surprising that many people are investing in private medical insurance – or PMI.
So, what exactly does private medical insurance cover, how much does it cost – and how can you arrange it?
What does PMI cover?
You will still need to see your GP as you do now, but once you do, things may be a little different with PMI. Your GP can refer you to a private consultant, and you are likely to be seen quickly. If required, you can have treatment in a private hospital, with all the costs covered.
For reasons of cost some specialist drugs and certain scans aren’t available on the NHS. Your PMI may be able to give you access to treatments you might otherwise have been denied
So, going private gives you access to more than 400 private hospitals, the most up to date drug and treatment options, and leading specialists. Just as important, private treatment can be arranged swiftly – which means you can be back to health and back to work faster.
It also means greater comfort. PMI will usually provide a private room with ensuite facilities, rather than the bed on a shared ward that you would expect with the NHS. The increased privacy and comfort can greatly reduce the misery of being unwell.
What isn’t covered?
However, the cover your PMI offers does have its limitations. Dental, optical and other specialist services such as chiropody will usually be excluded, although they might be available at extra costs.
Illness that was a pre-existing condition when a policy is taken will usually not be covered, and failing to declare it could void your policy when it comes to making a claim.
Also excluded will be conditions such as alcoholism and drug addiction. Pregnancy and childbirth costs are not covered, and neither are injuries relating to dangerous sports. Organ transplants and cosmetic surgery are also outside the cover provided.
If you have an accident and are injured, PMI may help with care during your recovery, but NHS Emergency services would be impossible to beat.
How much will it cost?
Cost can be a major consideration when you are looking at PMI. It may not be an essential – the NHS will help, and children will always get priority. If you have adequate savings it may even be more cost-effective to pay for treatment privately if you need it rather than pay regular insurance premiums. However, if you can afford it, you might feel more comfortable if you include PMI in your overall financial protection plans.
In most cases, a premium will be based on your health and age, and the cover you want. Different levels of cover are available. Want to cut costs? You can restrict the choice of hospitals, cap the level of cover offered – and avoid dangerous sports and activities.
The average premium for UK private health insurance is £1,435 per year, but you could pay much less if you are young, fit and take advantage of our expertise at Continuum to find you the best cover to suit your personal circumstances.
For some professional advice about getting the PMI cover that is right for you and your family, talk to us at Continuum. Call us now on 0345 643 0770, or email us at [email protected]
The information contained in this article is based on the opinion of Continuum and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation to suitable investment strategy, you should seek independent financial advice before embarking on any course of action.