A Guide to Private Health Insurance in the UK
This is our considered opinion as Medical Doctors on how private medical insurance works and what is covered when you want to take out a policy.
What are the different types of Private Medical Insurance (PMI) ?
There are two main types of private health insurance –
- Fully underwritten policies – When you choose fully underwritten private health insurance you will have to give your provider your complete medical history. This will be a longer process but you will be under no illusion about what you are covered for with this type of plan. Also it will be cheaper for you in the long-run.
- Moratorium policies – This is a plan which you can get if you can only provide (or want to) a partial medical history of yourself or your partner/family member. Another added benefit is that its faster to apply and complete this type of insurance policy.
What does Private Health Insurance Include?
There is a vast amount of options you may choose. But we have found even basic cover can afford you an excellent standard of care when you do need it.
Private rooms are a standard feature of most policies no in the UK. Needless to say the NHS can not provide you with this level of care.
In many NHS hospitals expect communal wards with little privacy and sometimes “waiting” on trolley in corridors!
Why use Private Medical Insurance? We have the NHS!
Yes we are lucky to have the NHS here in the United Kingdom. But, as you must know and seen in the media it is under a lot of stress and demand is huge. As such NHS waiting times are spiraling out of control.
If you require a must needed operation then we must look elsewhere for not only quality but a rapid solution to ease your pain and peace of mind. There is nothing worse than being on a waiting list and not having the certainty of even receiving the medical care. In the meantime your condition may be getting worse!
That being said there are many pros and cons of Private Medical Insurance in the UK.
Also a huge difference is the attention you will receive in AFTERCARE. Expect to see a consultant on the same day and be shown detailed scans of your particular medical ailment. Usually the private hospitals will provide aftercare on their premises as well.
Contrast this with the NHS. They will treat of naturally but don’t expect any aftercare whatsoever. For the NHS once the box has been ticked as it were on your particular treatment expect to be shown the door… Literally.
In Summary there are several reasons why Private Medical Insurance might NOT be for you:
- If you ARE happy with the level of care within the NHS
- You can accept waiting times out of your control
- You already have a medical Insurance through your employee package
- If you concerned about your child becoming sick. In theory NHS will prioritise the child
- The NHS are legally bound to offer you treatments if you have Cancers and serious disease.
A brief summary of the PROS of having Private Medical Insurance cover:
- Specialist Referrals
- Get the exact scans you want
- A private Room
- Choosing your the hospital and surgeon
- Aftercare Physiotherapy
- Stop waiting times
- Exclusive drugs for a rare condition
So, how can I buy cheap Private Health Insurance in the UK?
It can be a daunting prospect. It IS complicated if you don’t know EXACTLY what you are looking for…
There are several ways in which you can look for the cheapest prices of Private Medical Insurance in the UK. The easiest is using a comparison website.; but is it the smartest decision? You first have to consider if private medical Insurance is good value for money for you.
We have collected the best value providers here for you. Feel free to watch the different providers videos at your leisure.
If you ever think you might need expensive specialist medical treatment WITHOUT waiting for months….
Find out more about the companies History and overall conduct by clicking the links to on their profile pages.
Founded in 1947 Bupa is one of the worlds largest healthcare multinationals. Headquarted in London UK it has over 30 million customers in countries all over the world and specialises in Health Insurance not general Insurance. It is a private healthcare for-profit company limited by guarantee.
Another British company this time founded in 2000 it is even larger than Bupa but not as specialist. It is a general insurer unlike Bupa.
The oldest company on our list by far… founded in 1816 thats over 200 years ago. It is a French Multinational company headquarted in Milan Italy and is a general Insurer. Axa have their own mini guide to
Well known in the UK is Saga, a British company and specialises in customers over 50. Founded in 1959 they operate business mostly from sites on the South coast in Kent. Much smaller than the others we have listed but very aware of the needs of older people.
Another small company similar to Saga they came into existence from a company based in the USA in 1970 and then relocating to the UK and setting up a private hospital.
How do I claim on my Private Health Insurance Policy?
- You will need to read your policy document first. Each Insurer will have a different health claims procedure. If you’re planning to seek private treatment, read the small print of your policy or check your insurer’s website to see whether there’s specific guidance.
- Its essential to speak to your GP. So, start by speaking to your GP about your condition as you normally would. Your GP can refer you for private treatment. There are two main types of referral; an open referral, where your GP doesn’t address the letter to a specific consultant, or named referral, where a specialist is listed on the letter. Read the terms and conditions of your policy to check which one your provider will want.
- Next is calling your private health insurance provider. So you should all your provider and explain the situation. What you’ll need when you call will differ from provider to provider, but you must consider the following: Check policy number, the details of what your GP told you and details about your condition and the details of your referral. Also for best results you are advised to contact your private health insurer once again AFTER you have seen a medical specialist. Once you have seen a specialist, call you provider again to let them know what steps will be taken next. Also, make sure you understand how you’ll pay for any consultations or treatment – either you’ll have to pay and claim the money back, or you’ll provider will pay directly.
- If you feel you have been treated unfairly or without due courtesy, you are well within your rights to complain. Speak to your provider first, but if it isn’t proving helpful (and you have exhausted their complaints process) take the matter up with the
- Here in the UK the Financial Ombudsman Service is reached by calling 0300 123 9123.
OUR VERDICT AND CONCLUSION
Our advise is to do your research (including reading our guide) and choose wisely. Keep in mind that many of these providers will give you a discount if you can prove you are “fit and health” discounts can be up to 20% such as provided by Aviva.
We have considered the options for you as our typical reader and the patients we work with and think UK based Saga is an excellent option. They are small enough and specialist enough (not foreign based either) so are subject to our stringent British medical rules and practices.
As an added bonus Saga also runs cruises for the more mature person and can offer discounts and perks packaged with your Private medical Insurance if you so wish.
We wish you all the best in your choice.
Dr. Matthew Warburton