Health Insurance Guide
Private Health Insurance, also known as Private Medical Insurance or PMI, is chosen by discerning individuals for themselves and their families to complement the services provided under the NHS. Health Insurance is also sometimes provided by Companies as a benefit-in-kind to their staff, though quite often companies do not extend this benefit to family members, in which case some people take out a health insurance policy to cover the rest of their family. ActiveQuote provides health insurance price comparison services allowing you to get health insurance quotes from all insurance companies in one place.
Why choose Private Health Insurance?
Private Health Insurance, or Private Medical Cover gives you the choice of going private if you do not want to wait for treatment under the National Health Service (NHS). Whilst the NHS is a wonderful institution and something for Britain to be proud of, you may have to wait months before you get to see a specialist consultant - even for serious conditions. For other less serious conditions, the wait can be considerably longer. There is no-one to blame for this, there simply isn't enough cash to go round. If you would like to be able to choose when, where and by whom you are treated and would prefer the privacy of your own room with state-of-the-art facilities then health insurance is a wise investment. By buying health insurance, you will actually help by relieving the NHS of the cost of some of your medical care.
Main Benefits of Health Insurance
- to avoid the queues that can occur under the NHS
- to provide choice of: hospital, consultant, surgeon, time and location
- to gain privacy and dignity
- to avoid the risk of super-bugs prevalent in NHS hospitals such as MRSA and C-Difficile
- to provide drugs that cannot normally be funded by NHS (check policy details)
Health Insurance Policies - Factors to Consider
Health insurance covers you and your family for a year at a time, provided you pay your premiums. Most health insurance companies will automatically renew the policy each year.
Level of Cover
Insurance companies commonly categorise health insurance policies as either budget, mid-range/standard or comprehensive. Budget policies generally cover inpatient and day patient treatment, meaning diagnostic tests and consultant’s fees and some outpatient treatments, however in most cases consultation fees and diagnostic tests are not covered. Standard policies cover full inpatient and day patient treatment like operations and selected outpatient treatments. Comprehensive policies provide full inpatient and day patient cover, outpatient cover, MRI and CT scans and a host of other benefits which can include psychiatric, travel, dental, home nursing, chiropody, recuperative care and hospital expenses.
Not all insurance companies have the same interpretation of these categories, so at ActiveQuote we do not use this terminology because it merely serves to confuse our customers. Instead, we provide all the information about which benefits each policy provides and allow you to compare and choose easily.
Health Insurance Underwriting
When you take out a health insurance policy, you can choose one of three types of underwriting:
- Moratorium - allows quick and simple application without medical disclosure. Precise terms vary by insurance company but generally you will not be covered for any conditions that you have had in the previous 5 years but you will regain cover for those if they do not recur during the first 2 years of your new policy.
- Full Medical Underwriting (FMU) - you provide your full medical history on application and the insurance company may exclude cover for pre-existing conditions but will tell you what is excluded before you finalise your commit to purchase.
- Switch or CPME (Continuing Personal Medical Exclusions) - for customers switching from an existing policy to a new one on "switch/CPME" terms, the insurance company will continue to cover conditions that arose since your took out your old policy and will not add any extra exclusions.
Policies often provide access to different hospitals. Check that the policy you choose covers your nearest private hospital and that it also covers other hospitals that excel in areas of care that are relevant to you. On this website, we provide a FREE searchable database of UK hospitals with information about which policies provide cover at each.
Health Insurance does not cover voluntary medical treatment such as cosmetic surgery. It does not normally include cover for ancilliaries such e.g. dental, physio, alternative therapies. If you are using ActiveQuote, we provide details and comparison of each policy that make it clear what's covered and allow you to add options to provide cover for these ancilliaries where the insurance company allows. If you have a concern about a particular medical condition, check out our FREE searchable medical condition database which provides key information about the most common medical conditions and useful tips about what's important from a health insurance policy if you are concerned about that condition.
Although some policies can cost more than your budget, there are a range of discount schemes that can very often bring a policy within your budget without necessarily undermining the core value provided by the policy. Discount schemes include:
- Excess - reduce the premium by volunteering to pay the first part of any claim - fixed number of pounds
- Co-payment - reduce the premium by volunteering to pay a percentage of any claim
- Six Week Wait - reduce the premium by agreeing that if the NHS can provide hospital treatment within six weeks, you will not be covered for private treatment as you will be treated by the NHS. If the NHS waiting time is longer than six weeks, you can access private treatment straight away
- Reduced hospital cover - don't pay extra for hospitals that you don't need
Alternatives to Health Insurance
As an alternative to full private medical insurance you can also opt for lower cost cash plans which simply provide a cash payment towards your cover rather than paying for the treatment directly. However many full health insurance policies offer discount schemes such as excess, "six week wait" or "shared responsibility" components to make the policy more cost effective.
The alternative to buying private health insurance is to meet the costs for private treatment from your income or savings, although this can be very expensive if long term or specialist treatment is required. For example an MRI scan can cost around £1000 or a hip replacement up to £10,000.
Buying Health Insurance
You can buy health insurance in any of the following ways:
- Online - ActiveQuote is the only true price comparison website for quoting, comparing and buying health insurance in the UK. No other websites provide quotes from all leading UK insurance companies or allow you to purchase the one you choose instantly online. Please try our FREE Quote and Compare service or for more information about why we are the best, please visit the About ActiveQuote page.
- Direct from Insurer - You can purchase directly from one of around 15 health insurance companies that offer policies in the UK but if you take this route you will not generally be able to see whether you are getting the best policy for your money.
- Specialist Health Insurance Broker - there are a number of excellent specialist health insurance brokers in the UK who will provide you with personal advice about health insurance and assess your demands and needs to identify which policy is best for you. As well as our online Quote > Compare > Buy service, we (ActiveQuote) are a specialist PMI broker with a team of advisers with more that 40 years experience of health insurance. Please call us on the number above for personal advice.
- IFA - you can contact your financial advisor.