Private health insurance, or private medical insurance (sometimes refered to as private health insurance)can let you bypass the 2.9* million people stuck on NHS waiting lists and receive treatment at a hospital of your choice whenever you need it.
Private health insurance works in tandem with the services provided by the NHS and even if you have a private health insurance policy in place you are still eligible to get health treatment the NHS if you wish.
Private health insurance can treat you for acute medical conditions and provide quick, high-quality treatment at a time and place that suits you. In the event of an emergency you will use the accident and emergency department as normal and transfer to private healthcare once your condition has stabilised.
Private health insurance can be bought on an individual or family basis and children of any age can also be covered with private health insurance. Some insurers have no upper age limit and some private health insurance policies are specifically tailored to those over the age of 50 years.
If you think you need medical treatment, visit your local GP as normal and they will diagnose you and refer you to a specialist if required. Once you have been referred you will inform your insurer to make a claim on your private health insurance policy.
When your claim has been approved you will arrange an appointment with your specialist consultant with payments being arranged by the insurer.
When comparing private health insurance you can choose which hospitals are included on your cover and, in the event of a claim, you can decide where you would like to be treated.
In addition you can choose which specialist consultant treats you meaning you have a choice of the top specialists in their field treating you from diagnosis right through to recovery.
When you make a claim, the excess is the pre-agreed amount of you money you will pay towards the cost of your treatment.
You can choose to have no excess on your private health insurance policy, however if you are looking to lower your monthly premiums opting for an excess can bring them down.
Like any other insurance product, the more cover you have on your private health insurance policy the higher your premiums will be. However there are ways to keep the same amount of cover for a lower premium. Here are some examples:
Co-payment: Similar to an excess, you agree to pay a fixed percentage of all medical costs.
Six-week wait: A popular method of lowering your premiums is to take a six-week wait option. If you can be treated by the NHS within six weeks you will use the NHS, if you cannot you will be treated privately as soon as possible.
Reduced hospital cover: You can choose which hospitals are included on the policy so you only pick the ones you need.
Increase your excess: Reduce your monthly premiums with a higher excess.
The cost of your life insurance policy will not increase unless you have a reviewable policy. During a reviewable policy you will pay the same amount for a number of years, maybe five or ten years, then review your policy to see if the cover is still in line with your requirements. At the point of review your premiums may decrease or increase.
Comprehensive cancer care can be included into your health insurance policy to provide private medical treatment for cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery. Some policies can also include drugs and treatments not readily available on the NHS.
A basic cancer care option can include up to £30,000 annual limit to assist in the treatment, recovery and prevention of cancer should you develop it. Comprehensive cancer care policies may have an unlimited amount of cover towards treatment.
Private health insurance will not cover you for pre-existing conditions, however if you are underwritten on a Moratorium plan you may become eligible for any pre-existing medical conditions after a certain period of time.
Health insurance will not cover voluntary medical expenses, one of which is pregnancy and childbirth.
Some policies may allow women who have had health insurance for a certain period to be covered for certain complications arising from pregnancy and childbirth.
Private health insurance is designed to treat curable, routine conditions and will not cover you for treatment of a chronic condition. If you suffer a severe episode of a chronic condition then your policy may support the cost of stabilising the condition but it will not pay for the ongoing treatment once your condition is stable.
A policy that has full medical underwriting will require a complete medical history declaration from anyone on the policy and will require answering questions about their health. The insurer will then review the medical history and decide what is covered in the policy and what is excluded.
Full medical underwriting will typically exclude any pre-existing conditions and any other conditions that may be related to them.
If you have a health insurance policy covered by a Moratorium then no medical history is to be declared but any pre-existing condition you have experienced symptoms of, sought medical advice or been treated for in the last five years will be excluded automatically for two years.
As long as you remain symptom and treatment free you will have any pre-existing conditions covered on your policy after the two year period.
At the point of renewal, if you would like to switch insurers but still keep the same underwriting from your original policy you can do so. This means insurers will continue to cover conditions that arose since you took out your current policy.
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