The interest in private healthcare has understandably risen during the last few years as the NHS was overwhelmed by the pandemic, and it continues to feel the effects now. Taking out health insurance allows you to have access to private health care, which can often lead to a quicker diagnosis and treatment than you would see on the NHS. That being said, health insurance does constitute an extra monthly expense, and so the question becomes, is it worth it?
What is Health Insurance?
Whatever symptoms you find yourself experiencing, having health insurance in place effectively means that you get to jump the NHS queue. By taking out a policy, you get swift access to private healthcare from assessment and diagnosis through to treatment and aftercare. You can often choose which specialist you want to see, and you can choose to attend a private hospital that suits you. Health insurance is not necessarily all about physical health either; an increasing number of health insurance companies are offering mental health coverage too.
What Does it Cover?
This is a difficult question to answer because exactly what is covered by health insurance will vary depending on the provider and the level of coverage that you choose. That being said, you can typically expect the following to be covered with comprehensive health insurance: private consultations, in-patient and out-patient treatment, physiotherapy and unlimited access to medical helplines and virtual GP appointments. The specifics will depend on your policy. It is worth using a comparative site like Switch Health who offer a consultation to help you to get the cover that you need, in short, they can guarantee that you get almost anything that you want to be cover for to be covered, except for pre-existing conditions.
What Isn’t Covered?
Again, this will depend on your policy and your provider. However, the most common exclusions include emergency treatment, maternity care – although you can pay to give birth in a private hospital, the pregnancy and birth won’t be covered by the insurance. And lastly, chronic or pre-existing conditions are often not coverable either.
How Much Does it Cost?
This is another difficult question to answer because, again, it is entirely dependant on your coverage and provider. The cost of private healthcare without insurance can be extortionate; some operations can set you back several thousand pounds or even more. Whereas health insurance is often much more manageable. The monthly premiums can vary substantially, and they often depend on a number of other personal factors such as your locale, age, lifestyle, and health. The biggest influence will be the level of cover you choose and whether or not you are insuring yourself as a single person or your family as a whole.
How Can I Make it Cheaper for Myself?
There are several ways in which you can reduce the cost of your premiums. Firstly, you can match your cover to your budget and your priorities. Think about what you need covering versus additional benefits that you could live without. Next, consider your excess; agreeing to pay a higher excess can be a great way to lower your monthly premium. Some insurers will also lower your premiums if you agree to use the NHS if you can be seen within a certain number of weeks, usually between four and eight weeks. Finally, the more expensive the policy, the more access you will have to hospitals. If you agree to reduce your hospital list, you can often save some money on your premiums.
Do I Need Health Insurance?
Deciding whether or not you need health insurance will come down to a lot of different personal factors. If you are worried about NHS wait times, then having health insurance can give you peace of mind. For some people, it comes down to the practicalities; for example, if you are self-employed, then having health insurance can mean that an illness or accident won’t stop your earnings for any longer than is necessary.
So, is Private Health Insurance Actually Worth it?
In the end, whether or not health insurance will be worth it for you will come down to how concerned you are about relying on the NHS and the length of time you might have to wait in order to get a diagnosis or treatment. For some people, health insurance can be excellent value for money if they end up making multiple claims, whereas other people might find that they are paying extra simply for the peace of mind having that safety net offers. Unfortunately, it is incredibly hard to predict which category you would fall into. However, because private health insurance can be expensive, one of the deciding factors for you personally, will be whether or not you can afford it. It won’t offer you peace of mind if it is putting you under financial strain. Although, if you can afford it, then it can be an invaluable resource to have.