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Although healthcare is largely free on the NHS in the UK, many people choose to buy private health insurance. Taking out this kind of policy could give you faster treatment or more specialist care when you need it.
What is health insurance?
Health insurance is sometimes called private medical insurance. By paying a monthly premium you will be covered for some – or all – of your medical bills if you’re treated privately.
Taking out health insurance gives you more choice of care and more control of when you can access it. Without health insurance, it can be very expensive to access private treatment, especially for serious conditions. You may receive private health insurance as a benefit in some jobs.
What does health insurance cover?
The level of coverage you get from your health insurance will depend on the details of your policy. A basic policy will cover most hospital treatments and surgery. Some will also include outpatient treatments, where you visit a specialist or a therapist.
You can often add further coverage to your policy such as dental and optical insurance, mental health cover, alternative medicine and access to a private GP.
Do I need health insurance?
It’s not a requirement in the UK as British nationals get free treatment on the NHS. The main reason that people choose medical cover is to have the opportunity to access treatment more quickly. There are waiting lists for some NHS procedures that you can avoid by going private.
There is also the chance you could access treatments or medicines that aren’t available on the NHS. If you already have health insurance through your job, take a look at your policy to decide whether it’s worth extending your cover.
Can I get health insurance coverage for my family?
Yes – it’s possible to buy a family health insurance policy that covers you, your partner and your children.
A family private health insurance policy generally pays for private medical treatment for any family members that develop an illness or condition once your policy is in place.
Can I get health insurance if I’m over 50 years old?
Yes, many providers offer health insurance to those over 50. There may be a maximum age limit on a health policy, which is often 75 years of age.
Generally, health insurance is cheapest for younger people with no existing medical conditions. As we age, we are more likely to develop health problems, and so health insurance becomes more expensive.
Does health insurance cover cancer?
Generally health insurance covers ‘acute conditions,’ and sometimes there can be a lack of clarity around whether certain cancers fit that description. It’s important to check the wording of your policy to understand whether cancer is covered.
You can take out specific cancer insurance or add it to your policy. Most cancers are also covered by Critical Illness Insurance, which will pay you a lump sum if you receive a cancer diagnosis.
How much does health insurance cost?
The cost of health insurance can vary broadly depending on the level of cover and the age and health of the policyholder. You might be able to find cover for as little as £37.99 per month if you are young and healthy.
What is the difference between health insurance and a cash plan?
A cash plan is an insurance policy that helps with the cost of everyday healthcare, such as visits to the dentist, opticians or physiotherapy. It will pay for some or all of the cost of routine appointments that you and your family need each year.
It’s different from health insurance, which can help you when the unexpected happens. Cash plans usually have an annual limit, which wouldn’t stretch to private operations and hospital treatment.
How can I get advice on health insurance?
There are many different types of insurance and protection, so it helps to get advice on the types of cover that may suit you best. Depending on your specific situation, it may be more important to focus on critical illness cover, life insurance or income protection than a health insurance policy.
As financial advisors we are fully qualified to recommend suitable products for you and your family. We will be pleased to explain different policies and cover types to suit your needs.
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