While the NHS provides free health care to most UK residents, some individuals choose to look into other options when it comes to a healthcare plan that is right for them and their family. If you are wondering if a private health care plan might better suit your needs, you should know that there are many important factors to remember. To make your decision a bit easier, we have compiled a list of Pros and Cons to consider before signing your note on the dotted line.
It is worth noting that as with any health care plan, the level of coverage you receive from your private medical health insurance will be dependent on the type of policy you purchase.
Specialist Referrals Want a second opinion? Are you in need of specialist treatment? With private health insurance, you can request that your GP refer you to a reputable expert or specialist.
Access to Scans The NHS sometimes delays scans, and in some cases, refuses them. Individuals with private health insurance can use their cover to pay for the scans they need.
Minimize Waiting Time Individuals can use their private insurance to minimize their wait time for NHS treatment if the wait time exceeds six weeks.
Your Choice of Surgeon and Hospital Unlike NHS healthcare, private insurance holders are entitled (theoretically) to a surgeon and hospital that best suits the patient’s time and location.
Private Rooms If treatment in an open ward full of mixed-sex patients doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, use your insurance to secure a private room where you can rest, separate from others.
Access to Specialty Drugs and Treatments Many drugs and/or treatments are not covered by the NHS, due to being either too expensive or because they lack the approval of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in England and Wales (NICE) or the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC). Private health insurance provides patients with access to some of these specialist drugs and treatments.
Physiotherapy Access to physiotherapy sessions is much quicker for those with private health insurance compared to those who receive NHS treatment.
Questionable Quality This isn’t to say you won’t or can’t find a quality private health insurance policy, but the NHS is known to provide excellent and priority treatment for patients who have a serious illness, such as cancer, stroke, or heart disease. The quality of NHS hospitals can be as high, if not higher, than private hospitals.
Expensive Policies Currently, the cost of a typical family premium (consisting of two 40-year old adults and 2 children under 10) varies between £700 to £1,650 per year. Premiums increase each year, and as you age, meaning that by the time you are old and more inclined to need hospital treatment, the cost may be more than you can afford.
Chronic Illnesses May Not Be Covered Certain incurable and chronic diseases, such as diabetes and some types of cancer, are not covered by most insurance policies.
Limited Options for Local Treatment If the policy you choose comes with an approved list of consultants and hospitals, the expert consultant or convenient location that you prefer to receive treatment may not be included.