The NHS (National Health Service) is the main medical and healthcare service for people living in the UK, and it is a service, free at the point of use and a service people can use without paying the full cost (e.g. doctor/nurse visits, hospital consultations and treatments, midwifery and urgent care services).
Increasing numbers of people in the UK are however seeking private options when it comes to healthcare and associated procedures, particularly in the case of non-urgent and elective surgeries including the likes of:
However there has been a backlog in NHS treatments during the coronavirus pandemic as of November 2020. Officials have informed the public that people could expect it to be more than five years for waiting times to go back anywhere close to normal, forcing some to seek private healthcare. But is private healthcare really worth it?
How Is Private Healthcare Funded?
The most common way people pay for private procedures in the UK is either outright payments from savings or through private health insurance. When paying for private treatment there are many procedures (minor and major) to choose from, as well as private GP appointments. Some of the key advantages to think about when it comes to private healthcare include:
Referrals to Experts: it is possible for you to ask your private GP to refer you to top medical experts to give additional advice or information
Reduced Waiting Times: one of the main reasons individuals initially choose private healthcare is due to the fact that your private healthcare can reduce the amount of treatment waiting times you would have to endure on the NHS, IF the waiting period is longer than 6 weeks
Private Facilities: you have the option to choose private rooms/beds in hospital wards, rather than a mixed open ward
Specialist Medications and Treatments: there could be medications that are not available on the NHS due to the fact that they are too expensive to source or have not been approved by NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence England and Wales); with private healthcare, this is no longer an issue
Physiotherapy: with private healthcare, it is possible to obtain quicker access to physiotherapy sessions than you would through NHS treatment
Private Healthcare Vs Public Healthcare: What to Consider
Some treatments may receive better care on the NHS. For those who have serious illnesses (e.g., cancer, heart disease, stroke patients) you may well be able to get priority NHS treatment.
Possibly the main disadvantage of private medical care is the cost, and how it could potentially rise. On average, a typical family insurance plan for two adults and two children can cost between £700 and £1,800 per year. This cost will rise every year & with age, so some people are not able to afford it.
Most, but not all insurance policies don’t cover chronic illnesses, for example diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. They also tend not to cover emergency treatment, elective treatment, treatment required by lifestyle factors such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, treatments abroad and some pregnancy treatments
Local Treatment Options May Not Be available Without Private Care
Sometimes it is not possible to receive the medical expert you specifically want if you choose a policy with an already-generated list of consultants. During the difficult times we are currently facing globally, healthcare services in the UK and around the world have been and continue to be majorly strained. Whether or not to choose private healthcare ultimately comes down to your affordability and your own personal preferences.