What is Private Health Insurance?

Health insurance is a form of insurance which pays for medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident or illness. It is often known as private health insurance as it covers the cost of medical treatment at privately run clinics and hospitals compared to the state run National Health Service (NHS). The NHS was set up to provide healthcare for all, from the ‘cradle to the grave’. It does a very good job under what are often very difficult conditions, whilst trying to meet our ever increasing expectations. However, rising public expectations combined with innovative, and costly medical procedures plus increased demand mean that it is often struggling to cope.

This is where private medicine can help.

Rather than endure long waiting lists or a ‘postcode lottery’ in regard to certain treatments and/or medications; ‘going private’ means that you can bypass all of that. Instead you will have access to the treatment you want and need and in a high degree of comfort as well.  And this latter aspect is what often appeals to people the most. The opportunity to have your own room with en suite facilities, a la carte menu and Wi Fi access are just of a few of the niceties available in a private hospital. No-one enjoys being in hospital but if you have to spend some time there then why not do it in style. And this is where private health insurance comes in. As you can imagine, that type of service is not cheap so one way of paying for it is to take out some form of insurance. Whether you opt for treatment at a private clinic, hospital or private facilities within the NHS you will still have to pay for it but health insurance can cover the cost.

Main advantages of private healthcare

These include:

  • Reduced waiting time for treatment (no waiting list)
  • Private room with en suite facilities
  • Access to specialist procedures, for example fertility treatment.
  • Choice of consultant and hospital/clinic
  • Personal care: you are likely to see the same consultant throughout your treatment.
  • Your partner/family will be able to stay with you

Disadvantages of private healthcare

There are disadvantages of private healthcare which include:

  • Does not cover chronic or pre-existing conditions
  • Not all treatments are covered
  • Cost of premiums is rising above the current level of inflation.
  • Private hospitals don’t always have the facilities to treat emergencies.
  • Difficult to find the right policy to suit you

As with any form of insurance, you need to shop around and obtain various quotes before making a decision. It can help to speak to an independent financial adviser who will discuss the policies available to you and what the differences are between them. He or she can advise you about what you will get for your money but, ultimately, the final decision is down to you.

One way of looking at this is to assume that you get what you pay for. In other words, the cost of your premium correlates to the amount of cover you receive so the more cover you need the greater the cost.

You don’t have to be rich to buy health cover as many insurance companies offer a range of policies to suit all budgets. You choose the type of cover which suits your lifestyle as well as your pocket!

If you are lucky you may find that your employer includes private health insurance as one of the perks of the job. Many companies offer a range of benefits which include tickets to sporting/social events, company car, funding for further training/higher education and health insurance. This is a great perk if you would like private health care but are unable to pay for it yourself.

Private Medical Insurance Guide:



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