Many commentators are agreed that the National Health Service (NHS) is in crisis – in a long series of articles updated on the 21st of June 2018, the Mirror newspaper underscored just such a conclusion.
The result is that more and more people are turning to ways of supplementing the services offered by the NHS to help ensure that they receive the treatment as and when they need it, after consultation with the professionals of their choice, with the option of using private hospitals and medical facilities.
A whole host of different health insurance or private medical schemes have been developed to meet just such demands. So, what is involved if you want to compare health insurance plans to find one that is suitable for your own needs and circumstances?
- as with any type of insurance cover, the fundamental question you need to ask yourself when you compare health insurance is just what does it cover – there is likely to be a considerable range of options, and some might prove more critical than others if you are aged fifty plus or so;
Avoiding waiting times
- one of the main reasons for many people choosing private medical insurance, of course, is to cut the waiting times you are likely to encounter with the NHS;
- some plans, for example, may grant access to private treatment if you have to wait longer than a predetermined interval – of, say, six weeks – so you may want to compare the speed with which you are likely to be seen, diagnosed and treated;
Choosing your healthcare
- the ability to choose your healthcare consultant may also be an important factor;
- you may also want to take into account access to treatments which are not currently available on the NHS – such as some cancer treatments and drugs;
Private clinics and hospitals
- as you compare health insurance plans, you are likely to find a wide range of levels of access to private facilities such as clinics and hospitals, with varying standards of accommodation and comfort;
The principles of cover
- there are two broad principles on which any health insurance plan is likely to operate – full medical underwriting or moratorium underwriting;
- as the Association of British Insurers (ABI) explains, full medical underwriting is offered by all health insurance companies and involves your completion of a detailed medical history and the possibility of any pre-existing conditions being excluded from your cover;
- alternatively, some insurers may offer moratorium underwriting, which does not include the need for full disclosure of your detailed medical history from the outset – instead, any pre-existing conditions may be taken into account when you make a claim and those for which you have received treatment in the recent past (typically, the previous five years) may be excluded;
- some health insurance options may not cover the healthcare procedures and treatments themselves, but instead, provide a cash payout enabling you to choose whether or not to pay to see a consultant privately or to seek private healthcare.
At a time when the crisis affecting the National Health Service seems destined to get worse before it gets better, therefore, you might want to compare health insurance options to ensure you receive the healthcare you want, when you want it.