Health insurance, also known as private medical insurance, provides access to healthcare services and private hospitals in the UK.
Currently in the UK, it is well known that GP resources are being stretched to capacity and the ability to see a GP is becoming more and more difficult.
Therefore, with private medical insurance, in the event that an individual is injured or becomes unwell, they can make a claim to be seen privately and in most cases without the long wait that can be the case with the NHS.
As with all kinds of insurance, what you are covered for will vary depending on the options chosen. For example, there are policies that provide basic cover, which will only cover the cost of treatments if an overnight stay in hospital is required (inpatient) and more comprehensive policies, which will provide cover for diagnostic tests and consultations, along with outpatient treatment and mental health support.
Private medical insurance will generally only provide cover for acute medical conditions, meaning those which can be cured relatively quickly. Chronic conditions that perhaps require ongoing management rather than immediate treatment generally won’t be covered, although under a Group Private Medical Insurance Scheme there are instances where some chronic conditions may be covered.
What are the main benefits of private medical insurance in the UK?
Quicker access to treatment
The most significant benefit of having private health insurance is that an individual will usually be treated quicker than through the NHS. There are of course exceptions to this, however going private generally means getting treatment sooner.
Virtual GP Services
Most private medical insurance policies will provide access to a virtual GP, also referred to as a digital GP. The service will vary between providers; however most will provide the facility to book a telephone or video consultation appointment with a GP. This is usually done via an app or online. As mentioned earlier this means that an individual can usually get the medical advice, prescriptions, and even the referral they need much faster than trying to get an appointment with a local NHS GP.
A private room whilst in hospital
Depending on the condition that an individual has been diagnosed with, their time in hospital could be anything from a couple of days to several months. By being treated privately, they will have a private room whilst in hospital. This may seem like a relatively insignificant benefit, for some people, however having privacy during time in hospital can make a big difference to the overall treatment experience. As well as having a private room, most private hospitals are more relaxed when it comes to visiting hours which can potentially enable more frequent visitors at times to suit them. Many private medical insurance providers also include money towards the cost of accommodation for parents if their children need to stay in hospital, which means that parents can spend more time with their child.
Choice over when, where and who treats you
Generally, under the NHS an individual will have little say over who they are treated by and where. The provision of treatment can sometimes be a postcode lottery, and an individual will usually be limited to the consultants, hospitals, and times that are available. Private medical insurance will usually give a greater choice when it comes to treatment, subject to the options chosen within the health insurance policy.
Discounted gym membership and other exclusive offers
Private medical insurance providers will usually offer access to discounted gym membership as well as discounted coffee, clothing, travel and much more. Many of the discounts are centred around living a healthy lifestyle.
Mental Health Support
Private health insurance often provides mental health support, giving a member the facility to speak to a trained mental health nurse 24/7. Many providers are now including access to talking therapies within their core products, and for more extensive cover, additional Mental Health Cover is available which will remove many of the restrictions and give outpatient access to psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.
An individual can benefit from being diagnosed privately as well as being treated. The process generally starts with a GP appointment, however rather than being referred to NHS for testing, scans and consultations, these would take place privately. As a value-added benefit with some private medical insurance providers, members are given access to a virtual GP service. The virtual GP is also able to provide the required referral, hence saving the need to wait for an NHS GP appointment. Ultimately, a faster diagnosis means faster treatment.
Access to drugs and treatments
There are many treatments that are routinely available on the NHS, however there are some that are excluded or not approved due to their cost or experimental nature. With a private health insurance plan, many of those restrictions may be removed, potentially giving the individual the ability to receive the latest drugs and treatments, regardless of their cost. There will be exceptions, and all drugs and treatments must be approved by NICE for their use to be considered, but options are much broader when being seen privately.
Cancer Research reported back in 2015 that 1 in 2 people in the UK will get cancer at some point in their lives. The speed of diagnosis has been closely linked with recovery and survival rates, and this is one of the foremost reasons that employers and individuals consider setting up a private health insurance policy. The best private health insurance providers in the UK provide excellent cancer cover and an individual can usually expect to be diagnosed and subsequently treated sooner than if they didn’t have a policy. Not only is it likely that an individual will be treated quicker, but they will also get additional support along the way. This additional support could be access to qualified counsellors, the option to receive chemotherapy at home, and even money towards the cost of prostheses and wigs if required. Cancer cover is a key part of all the leading providers’ policies as they know how important it is to people, with the level of cover and care being extremely high in most cases.
How can we help?
MWM Employee Benefits Limited specialises in working with employers to research and implement the right level of cover for their employees. Having a private medical insurance scheme can benefit an employer by its employees having access to quicker treatment, providing incentives for a healthier lifestyle and potentially getting them back to work quicker in the event of them being unwell.
If you wish to discuss the options for a private medical insurance scheme in more detail, please contact us:
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The information provided is for general information only and is not intended to address the particular requirements of an individual or business. It does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by MWM Employee Benefits or Menzies Wealth Management Ltd and should not be relied upon by individuals in either making or refraining from making any financial decisions. Where necessary, you should seek appropriate professional advice before acting on any of the information provided.
MWM Employee Benefits is an authorised representative of Menzies Wealth Management who is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 486548).
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