Many people assume that when it comes to deciding how to look after their health they are limited to just two options: using the free service that the NHS offers or to take out health insurance in order to cover them for private care. Well, they would be wrong, because there is a new trend emerging which is seeing more and more people taking matters into their own hands and self funding their healthcare through personal savings and investments.
Taking out a health insurance policy can be incredibly expensive and there are absolutely no guarantees that it will be of any use to you as there can be so many limitations on what they will or will not cover you for. By saving the money, that you may have invested in an insurance policy, in a high interest savings account for the very purpose of health care emergencies, you get to call the shots. You must, of course, be very strict with yourself. Not only do you need to ensure you are paying money into the account on a regular basis, but you must also be clear in your head of it’s purpose.? It is going to be of no use to you if you keep dipping into it for other ’emergencies’. Label that money as healthcare and healthcare only. Many banks offer their customers the ability to split their accounts into different sub headings in order for them to keep track of their finances and to group them into various different pots. It would also be advisable to set up a monthly direct debit to pay into this particular ‘pot’ so that it continues to grow.? After a while you won’t even miss the money and it will continue to increase and earn interest, meaning you can confidently sit back, safe in the knowledge that should a medical emergency arise, which cannot be suitably covered by the NHS, you will be able to fund it.
Statistics show that around 6 million people take out health insurance each year, of which 2/3 of this number have policies which are covered within their employers benefits packages. With the ever rising increase in annual premiums, due to the cost of new medical treatments and drug therapies, more and more people are struggling to cover the costs. When you start to examine how much some routine operations actually cost, it becomes clear that you would end up spending far more money on a health insurance policy than if you were to pay for the operation yourself. For example, a knee replacement will cost approximately ?4,000, a hernia removal around about ?2,000 and even something more serious like a heart bypass will usually only cost about ?15,000. However, if you were to take out health insurance, dependent on the type of policy, your age and your previous medical history, you could expect to pay anywhere from ?57 up to ?105 a month, which over the space of a year and beyond is soon going to mount up to a figure way beyond the cost of some of those operations.
The benefit of using your own savings to pay for treatment is that you can act straight away. You are able to be in control of the situation insofar as you can choose your hospital and your consultant both in terms of location, expertise and indeed, cost. As Jan Lawson, Managing Director of Medical Care Direct explains, “Clearly there are still significant costs that people have to pay. But a lot of people find they would rather use savings to ensure prompt treatment when they need it, rather than pay for an insurance policy they might never claim on.”
Self funding will not work for everybody.? Those people who have a serious illness, for example cancer, and will require continuous ongoing treatment may well find that expenses soon mount up and go beyond their level of savings.? As Dr Annabel Bentley, Medical Director of Bupa Health and Wellbeing, explains, “it is important to consider that health insurance doesn’t just cover the relatively small things such as diagnostic tests, but larger, more expensive treatments. A single course of chemotherapy for cancer can cost between ?25,000 and ?30,000, and someone may need several courses. These are significant amounts of money to find from savings”. Although, health insurance may prove beneficial to people with serious illnesses, it is worth remembering that not all illnesses are covered, so you must ensure you check the terms and conditions of any policy that you may choose to take out.
For those people, who have a pre-existing medical condition and whom health insurers wouldn’t touch with a barge pole, self funding may be the best option. Health insurance isn’t an absolute necessity, we are all suitably catered for by the NHS.? It is more of a personal decision, based on such things as family medical history, age or simply because you personally place more trust and confidence in what you may consider a better, more exclusive healthcare system.