Health is dominating the summer headlines, with a new scare story or shock statistic in the news almost every day. There’s no doubt the NHS is facing challenging times and this has fuelled a surge in demand for health insurance; latest figures from leading healthcare data provider LaingBuisson show that the number of UK policies reached the 4m mark in 2015 after seven years of shrinking or remaining the same[1].

More of us are turning to private medical insurance (PMI) for peace of mind. Should we become ill or have an accident, PMI will give us more choice as to where and when we are treated and help us stay in control. Whether you opt solely for private care or use policy benefits in tandem with NHS services, here are some reasons why you might choose health insurance:

1. You’re self-employed

If you’re one of the UK’s 4.6m self-employed people[2], not only are you working without the potential cushion of company health insurance, but you face the double whammy of having to manage without sick pay, too. Private medical insurance will get you seen by the experts as soon as possible and give you every chance of getting back to business as usual without undue delay.

2. You’d like a second opinion

Hopefully, you’ll have absolute confidence in your doctor’s diagnosis and the treatment he or she sets out but, if you have any doubts, it can be hard to ask for a second opinion. Certain health insurance policies include an option to add a second opinion service, giving you rapid access to another professional who can allay your fears or suggest an alternative course of action.

3. You’d like support at the end of a phone

How often have you thought of that burning question five minutes after your appointment ends, or lain awake at night trying to remember the medical details? The days and weeks in between appointments can be worrying and stressful, but some PMI policies offer telephone support at all hours of the day and night from trained nurses and counsellors.

4. You’d love reduced gym membership and cheaper spa breaks!

Not only do some insurers lower premiums for policyholders who regularly go to the gym and stay fit, but having health insurance can lead to cheaper gym membership in the first place! Many insurers team up with leisure providers to reduce member fees - sometimes by up to 50% - as well as offer cut-price spa breaks and beauty treatments. Sounds like a winning situation to us!

5. Home comforts are important to you

It’s often said that hospital’s the worst place to be when you’re ill and it’s true that the smallest things can often make the biggest difference to your wellbeing and recovery. Private medical insurance allows you not only to choose the centre you receive treatment at - which could be closer to home and smaller than a large NHS hospital - but also to benefit from life’s little luxuries such as an en-suite, a personalised menu and a TV in your room.

6. You want to safeguard your mental health too

Much has been done to remove perceived stigmas around mental health and to place it on a level playing field with physical illness. But many mental health services across the country are at breaking point and the Royal College of Nursing says the Government will need to ‘work hard’ to meet its pledge to increase specialist staff by 21,000 in the next four years. Many private healthcare policies offer add-on mental health cover, providing support should you experience issues including anxiety and depression.

PMI policies come in many shapes and sizes, allowing you to add members of your family or obtain international health insurance if you live or work abroad. We can help you compare private medical insurance quotes and find the right policy for your own individual circumstances.

[1] LaingBuisson’s market report Health Cover
[2] Office for National Statistics