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Taking out a private health insurance policy, also known as private medical insurance, can give you the comfort of knowing that, should illness strike or you suffer an accident, you’ll have access to the very best of care.
Benefits include bypassing long waiting lists, securing prompt medical appointments and investigative health tests, the opportunity to choose the hospital you receive your care in and the advantages of a range of specialist treatments not always available on the NHS.
What level of health cover should I choose?
Generally, health insurance providers offer a choice between a standard or ‘core’ policy or comprehensive health insurance, with the cost of your premiums (payments) reflecting the amount of cover you receive.
Core policies usually cover you as standard for treatment as an inpatient, where you need a hospital bed. This might include attending hospital for the day to undergo a minor operation or having surgery or treatment that necessitates an overnight stay.
Comprehensive health policies also cover you for outpatient care including appointments for specialist consultations, diagnostic tests and scans, as well as ongoing referrals for outpatient appointments after any initial treatment. The advantage of this type of cover is that you can avoid long waiting lists on the NHS that would delay your diagnosis and treatment.
Lots of insurance companies offer a ‘pick-and-mix’ approach, where you choose a basic or core cover policy and supplement it with your choice of additional options. ActiveQuote can help you compare health insurance policies to find the right option for your budget.
What extras are included with comprehensive health insurance?
If a policy doesn’t offer everything you’re looking for as standard, it’s easy to add extra cover to your health insurance policy, depending on what you feel is important to you.
Mental wellbeing is central to our overall health so you may be interested in a mental health add-on, which can cover you for in-patient treatment if you’re diagnosed with an acute psychiatric condition. Many policies also now include health apps, which offer 24/7 GP support, fitness programmes and counselling, including for any teenagers named on a family policy.
If you have a physical or manual job where you’re at risk of muscular and joint injuries, you might benefit from speedy access to specialist treatment to get you back to work as soon as possible. In such cases, adding cover for physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture treatment can be a good idea. You can also enhance your policy with dental and optical cover.
Does comprehensive private medical insurance include cancer cover?
Statistics show that one in two people will develop cancer in their lifetime, so being covered for cancer care - with the reassurance that you can access faster and often more extensive treatment - is a priority for many.
Basic policies might not cover chronic conditions like cancer, but many comprehensive ones will. Depending on the level of cancer cover you have, you can either claim for treatment up to a certain annual limit or access comprehensive cancer care, including innovative and expensive specialist treatment such as stem cell transplantation, biological therapies and hormone therapies. With some policies, you can also claim for the cost of wigs and home nursing.
Are there any exclusions?
Every policy will have different exclusions, but most won’t cover ongoing treatment for a chronic illness or condition you have before you take out the policy. Elective treatments such as fertility treatment and cosmetic surgery are also not usually covered.
Some policies do cover maternity benefits and complications and emergencies arising from pregnancy but, again, this isn’t always standard and it’s wise to check your policy documents thoroughly to make sure you know what is and isn’t included.
Good health – and healthcare – is a priority for us all. You might like to read our guide to looking after your wellbeing for some top tips to stay in top shape!