A Guide to Private Healthcare – All of Your Questions Answered

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You may be considering private healthcare for either yourself or your family, as most people in the UK have especially since the Coronavirus pandemic. The NHS has become more and more overwhelmed, which means access to your usual GP or medical services are delayed or even unavailable.

Private healthcare is an option for anyone in the financial position to pay for medical treatment, one of the current key advantages being that the usual NHS waiting lists can be avoided.

You’ll initially be required to request a referral from a GP to get things started, and from which you can choose to get registered with a healthcare insurance company OR you can choose a ‘pay-as-you-go’ option if you prefer. 


Types of Healthcare Insurance Cover

Before taking out a private healthcare insurance plan, you should check without your employer to see if you are eligible for health insurance or if it's already part of your insurance package. The types of cover include:

  • Basic: Pays for inpatient treatments and stays
  • Medium: Pays for outpatient care as well as impatient care
  • Comprehensive: Pays for all of the above, as well as extra treatments and physiotherapy

Types of Health Insurance

Before you compare health insurance quotes, it’s important to pick what kind of insurance plan suits you and your personal situation:

  • Individual Health Insurance: A personal insurance that covers the medical needs of one single person
  • Family Health Insurance: A plan that covers you, your partner and children
  • Joint Health Insurance: A plan that covers two people, usually you and your partner
  • Children’s Health Insurance: It’s common for people to set a health insurance plan for their children, or they can be added to their parent/guardian’s health insurance plan

Healthcare Insurance Pricing/Cost

It’s no secret that private health insurance can be pricey, however there are tips to minimise the amount you pay, as well as things to consider before you start your health insurance plan.


How do I pay for my private health insurance?

Usually, you will have to pay your insurance company either on a monthly basis or a yearly basis – this can be done by bank card, cheque, via telephone or online.


What affects the cost of my private health insurance?

Your age, your general health and where you live (among others) are all contributing factors to the cost of your health insurance plan.

Age: younger people can expect to see higher quotes for their health insurance, as the general consensus is that there’s less of a chance you’ll develop health complications at a young age. The older you get, the more reliant you will be on medical services

General health: your health/lifestyle will definitely have an effect on the cost of your health insurance cost, as the unhealthier you are the more you rely on medical services. Of course, chronic illnesses or diseases cannot be managed, but things like giving up smoking will help you see rewards such as cash-back offers, discounted gym memberships etc.

Location: where you live also greatly affects the amount you’ll pay towards your health insurance. Living in busy/major cities have higher hospital costs as there’s a higher demand for medical care due to population, as opposed to hospitals and lower populations in out-of-city places and countryside’s. 

Is Private Healthcare Worth the Money?

As previously mentioned, it’s no secret that paying for private healthcare can be expensive. However with the current state of the NHS and how hard it’s been hit by the global pandemic, it might be worth taking into consideration.

As of 10th June 2021, the NHS waiting list has hit a record high; according to Sky News, the amount of people waiting to start treatment this year is 35 times higher than they were in 2020, and there are currently around 5.1 million people needing/waiting for treatment - the highest number ever recorded.

The strain on the NHS is ground-breaking, and there are some people who have been waiting as long as 52 weeks just to start treatment.

If your medical needs are due to acute and/or short-term illness, it’s worth looking into some means of private medical care, as you could be waiting long periods of time to receive treatment.

The Pros & Cons to Private Healthcare

One of the obvious advantages of private healthcare would be the avoidance of waiting lists for medical procedures, especially if you’re waiting for a treatment that isn’t available on the NHS (e.g. cosmetic surgery)

Another advantage is that you are able to have complete privacy. When on private health insurance, it’s possible for you to be able to request private rooms on hospital wards, as well as access to better services (e.g. hospital food, catering to dietary needs etc.).

One of the disadvantages of private healthcare could be that there are unforeseen charged which you will need to pay for. For example; being admitted to a hospital and needing to stay longer than you originally planned, or needing additional treatment; however good deals are available if you know how to find them. 

Another disadvantage would be that you may have to rely on NHS services for emergency treatment, as most health insurance plans don’t cover trips to the emergency room. Chronic, long-term or pre-existing conditions aren’t usually covered under health insurance plans, so you’ll only be able to continue receiving private healthcare once your condition has stabilised.

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