Most people in the UK rely on the NHS for it’s free healthcare service, whether it be visits to your GP, hospital care or in some cases free treatment, prescriptions and medication. So it begs the question, why would we need private health insurance when we can get most of what we need for free? Let’s look at some statistics:
Approximately one million people are currently on an NHS waiting list and 25% of those people have been on the list for longer than one year. With a rapidly expanding population and a population that is living longer due to improved healthcare systems, it is no wonder that the extra demands placed on the NHS has caused this backlog of patients. Put simply, private healthcare is needed because the NHS is no longer capable of being able to satisfy the entire population of the UK. Although medical advancements has meant that doctors can treat many more conditions, this does result in new procedures, diagnostic methods, drugs and technology which all come at a price both in terms of money, time and staff training.
As with most insurance policies, there are pros and cons involved and it is up to the individual to decide whether taking out individual health insurance is right for you.? First and foremost, think about whether you would actually benefit from having health insurance, do you actually need it? It is also worth checking whether it is included within your employee benefits package as many companies do offer this to their staff and it would make complete sense to take them up on the offer.
Every policy will be different, however most basic medical insurance policies will cover the costs of most in patient treatments,? including tests and surgery along with day care surgery. Some policies may also include out patient treatments, such as specialists and consultants but you will pay more of a premium for this kind of policy. Ultimately, it is a personal decision which should be based on whether you think private health insurance would be of benefit to you. If you would prefer to avoid lengthy waiting times, the exclusivity of private hospitals and to be covered for drugs and treatment that you may not be entitled to on the NHS then you should consider talking out health insurance.? If, on the other hand, you are happy to rely on the NHS for your healthcare, your employer offers free healthcare or you have sufficient savings that should you need treatment in the future you would be able to self fund, then there is probably no need for you to take out a private policy.
Perhaps, more importantly, you need to aware of what won’t be covered by private health insurance. Again, this will vary from policy to policy, but in general health insurance will not cover you for the following:
2. Chronic illnesses including HIV/AID’s related illnesses, epilepsy, diabetes and hypertension.
4.? Cosmetic surgery.
5. Standard pregnancies and other childbirth costs.
6. Any injuries that have been caused through dangerous sports or from war/war like hostilities.
7. Some policies will also not include mental health and depression.
NHS v’s Private
Things are now no longer so clear cut as to be able to define the two, as the boundary between them is lessening. Many NHS hospitals now have private units within them and use them as crucial sources of income to fund their NHS work. This means that if you have paid for private medical insurance you may end up in the same NHS hospital as if you hadn’t taken out a policy, but just be a different wing. In most cases, however, you are likely to be taken to a private hospital, with your own private room which more often than not can rival any high quality hotel room and services. A new scheme set up by the government called Patient Choices, means that NHS patients can now request treatment in a private hospital. Although, you would be unlikely to get a private room, the services and experience you are likely to receive e.g menu and TV choices, would be identical to that of a private fee paying patient. It should also be argued that some of our NHS specialist hospitals offer outstanding intensive care facilities, many of which are world leaders in areas such as cancer, cardiac and pediatric care. they can often be overlooked by UK patients, yet people can fly in from all over the world to be treated at these specialist hospitals.? So, when we offered so much choice and such a high standard of medical care, why should we take out further private medical insurance. See our article, ‘Are you Healthy? Are you Insured? Are you sure?‘ for more information about the pros and cons of taking out health insurance.