The Ins and Outs of Health Insurance

Nowadays, insuring our home and car is a no-brainer…why should our health be any different?

More and more people in the UK are choosing to take out health insurance to cover the cost of private medical treatments and care not offered by the NHS. Private medical insurance allows patients to be less reliant on the health service as well as pay for all or some of their medical bills. Its main benefits include shorter waiting times, faster diagnosis, better facilities and convenience in choosing times for specific appointments. The cost of taking out health insurance will depend on an individual’s age, medical history, lifestyle and type of cover.

How to choose health insurance

There are various things to consider when shopping around for health insurance. Most plans tend to cover inpatient treatments, exclusive medicines, hospital stays, scans and surgical procedures. A few things which basic policies do not cover are A&E visits, existing chronic problems, drug abuse, treatment abroad, organ transplants and non-essential cosmetic treatments. 

The two types of health insurance policies are moratorium underwriting and full medical underwriting—their main difference lies in how much information patients are asked to give their provider. Both have their pros and cons. With moratorium underwriting, patients are not required to share full medical history to their providers and they will, generally, not be initially covered for past conditions. Full medical underwriting, on the other hand, requires patients disclosing their full medical history. This plan will most likely provide the widest coverage, take longer to apply for and come with a heftier price tag. Age and health status may also dictate what type of health insurance individuals are eligible for—insurers are not likely to offer a moratorium underwriting plan to seniors over the age of 75. There are also insurance plans tailored to specific conditions and age groups. Others, for example, only provide cover if patients are forced to wait over six weeks for treatment on the NHS. 

Making a claim

Once you have an insurance plan in place, claiming back is simple. Make sure you have all the information you need (insurer’s contact details and your policy membership number) as well as details about your illness. To start your claim, you may phone your insurer and ask them to refer you to a specialist, use your insurer’s website or visit a doctor directly. If you choose to do the latter, you’ll need to contact your provider to check whether they can cover your treatment needs. Your insurer will take care of the bill directly with the treatment provider. In some cases, you may need to pay an excess, but this will have been pre-agreed in your policy contract. If, for whatever reason, your claim is rejected, check your policy carefully and make a formal complaint wherever necessary.

What types of insurance can you get?

Individual. This is taken out in one person’s name and will only pay out for that person.

Joint. This can cover two people and may work out cheaper than individual policies. 

Family. This lets individuals cover themselves, their partner and children under one plan. 

Children. It is possible to take out a standalone health insurance plan for children. 

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