With growing frustration surrounding NHS waiting lists and difficulties accessing care, more individuals are considering private healthcare. In this article, we explore the merits of private health insurance and whether it may be a viable option for you.
The Rising Trend of Private Healthcare
Recent data from the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) shows 272,000 people in the UK opted to self-fund medical procedures or diagnostics at private hospitals last year – a significant 33% increase compared to pre-pandemic figures1. Over double that number relied on private medical insurance policies to cover expenses1. While private health insurance can provide quicker access to care, it’s essential to weigh the costs against the benefits and understand policy limitations and exclusions.
Understanding Private Medical Insurance
Private medical insurance generally offers swift access to healthcare services like assessments, diagnoses, treatments, and aftercare. You often can select your preferred specialist and private hospital location. Many providers now extend support for mental health issues in addition to physical health.
Coverage Details: What to Expect from Private Health Insurance
Coverage varies between providers and plans, but often includes:
- Consultations with specialist doctors
- Inpatient treatment like surgeries
- Outpatient services such as scans, tests, x-rays
- Limited physiotherapy sessions
- 24/7 medical helplines and virtual GP appointments
However, typical exclusions may include:
- Emergency treatment, which should be sought from your GP or emergency services.
- Maternity care, which typically isn’t covered.
- Chronic conditions like arthritis or diabetes treatment.
Beyond Private Health Insurance: Exploring Other Financial Safety Nets
Private health insurance isn’t the only policy that can provide financial support during health challenges. Critical illness insurance pays out a lump sum upon diagnosis of covered conditions, while life insurance provides a lump sum in the event of your passing during the policy term. Alternatively, income protection offers monthly benefits if illness or injury prevents you from working.
Making the Choice: Is Private Health Insurance Right for You?
The decision to invest in private health insurance hinges on your individual circumstances and preferences. If you’re concerned about long NHS waiting lists, then private health insurance may be able to provide greater peace of mind, however, if you have confidence in the NHS’s availability when needed, then this may be less of a priority for you.
Strategies for Self-Employed Individuals
For self-employed individuals, private health insurance can be crucial to ensure that health issues or accidents don’t disrupt your income. If you prefer to have the option to use private care but don’t want to purchase insurance, it may be worthwhile setting aside savings to cover potential medical expenses, should the worst happen. However, be mindful that medical treatments can be costly, and savings may not always suffice.
Private Health Insurance: A Personal Decision
The decision to invest in private health insurance is a personal one, dependent on your own circumstances and priorities. It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons carefully and explore the available options to make an informed choice that suits your needs.
Finding the Right Fit for Your Healthcare Needs
We can help you assess the range of insurance and protection products available and can help you source the most appropriate product to suit your needs, goals, and budget.
- The Times (2023) Is private health insurance worth it? Available at: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/money-mentor/insurance/life-protection-insurance/private-healthcare (Accessed 18 Jan 2024)
All the information in this article is correct as of the publish date 25th January 2024. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. The information provided in this article, including text, graphics and images does not, and is not intended to, substitute advice; instead, all information, content and materials available in this article are for general informational purposes only. Information in this article may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.