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Health insurance is often the last thing on our minds in our late teens and 20s. It’s an easy thing to overlook when you’re building a career, investing in a home and possibly becoming a parent. It’s also commonly assumed that health insurance is something you need only as you get older!
But, in fact, our younger years are often the very best time to take out the right private medical insurance. The premiums are likely to be cheaper and, ironically, it’s best to think about health insurance when in good health, as it’s too late to get cover following a diagnosis, which is more likely to happen as we age. Read on to find out more.
What is private health insurance?
Private health insurance gives you peace of mind that you’ll be taken care of in the event of an accident or illness. The right policy can help you bypass long waiting lists, get medical appointments quickly and access tests and treatment. You can also choose the hospital at which you’re treated and you might be offered specialist treatments that are not available on the NHS.
You can take out a single or joint health insurance policy, depending on whether you’re in a relationship, as well as family cover if you have children at this time in your life.
Why do I need health insurance in my 20s?
Health insurance, also known as private medical insurance (PMI) is a wise option if you’d like the security of knowing you’ll receive the best care if you become ill or injured. We might associate PMI with becoming older, but accidents and emergencies can happen at any age!
Also, health insurance is calculated by taking into consideration your existing lifestyle and health. You might find if you smoke, for example, that your premiums are more expensive, whereas if you keep healthy by going to the gym and staying active, the cost is usually lower.
PMI providers will also look at any pre-existing and chronic conditions (remember, any policy might be invalidated if you don’t disclose all the facts). You’re more likely to be fit and healthy in your teens and 20s and less likely to have faced a serious diagnosis, helping to keep the cost of the premiums down.
You can’t take out health insurance retrospectively; in other words, you wouldn’t be able to compare quotes for cancer cover once you’ve already been diagnosed with or are having tests for suspected cancer conditions. Therefore, the earlier you have PMI in place, the more likely you are to be covered for a wide range of chronic and serious illnesses, should they happen later in life.
What level of health cover do I need?
There are different levels and types of health insurance, depending on your budget, needs and lifestyle. A core policy provides standard treatment should you become an inpatient needing an overnight stay. You might find that few ‘extras’ are included, but it can be a reliable option if you’re on a smaller budget.
Comprehensive health insurance covers you for outpatient care such as specialist consultations, diagnostic tests and scans, as well as, for example, mental health cover, full cancer cover and an NHS cash benefit for each night spent in hospital, depending on your policy.
You can add extra elements, such as 24/7 wellbeing phone support, a range of therapies such as physio, and dental and optical treatment, while many comprehensive policies also offer additional benefits of health insurance such as discounted gym membership or a free Fitbit.
Family health insurance
Family health insurance can be a really good option if you choose to have children before you turn 30. Family health policies cover children and teenagers up to the age of 18, with many offering added cover for students while they are at university.
With young people more likely than older generations to want a digital GP appointment, telephone and virtual services can be a valuable benefit of your family health cover, especially with regards to mental health concerns and support.
If you’re considering comparing health insurance in your 20s, you might also be interested in our guide to life insurance for the under 30s.