We insure our cars and homes without a second thought, but have you ever considered taking out health insurance?
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is designed to provide medical treatment and support to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. But many people choose to take out their own private health insurance.
Frequently asked questions
What’s health insurance
Health insurance is a policy you take out to cover the cost of medical care. Private health insurance offers three key advantages:
- shorter waiting times
- quicker diagnosis
- better facilities, such as a private room
Health insurance can also offer access to specialist drugs and treatment that may not be available on the NHS or affordable to pay for directly. Its overarching aim is therefore to provide you with the comforts and reassurance you want from your initial consultation through to your aftercare.
Whether you are worried about an experience someone you know has had or you want access to a specific hospital or quicker access to a specialist, there are a variety of health insurance products and policies to choose from which should help to meet your requirements.
As with any insurance policy, it’s important to research your options carefully. When you compare health insurance on MoneySuperMarket.com, you’ll be able to review a range of policies to assess how much each policy costs as well as what it covers, before you make a decision.
How does it work?
Health insurance can take many different forms, but there are some common features throughout the market which help you identify what you could be covered for.
We can help you find the product that is most appropriate for you from our panel of providers.
What does health insurance cover?
Health insurance will cover you for the cost of receiving medical treatment, including scans and surgical procedures, when you are admitted to hospital as an In-patient or day-patient as standard.
You can also get cover for radiotherapy and chemotherapy to treat cancer, and access to a GP or medical professional when needed.
However, you should be aware that cover may vary depending on the provider you choose. For instance, access to a GP or medical professional can vary from access to a 24 hour helpline, through to a consultation with a private GP.
Some policies include one-to-one online GP consultations, via Skype for example. The benefit of these types of consultations include not needing to leave the house or take time off work, and a simpler way of getting any repeat prescriptions. Some providers may even have appointments available 24/7.
Each policy allows you to build the plan to suit you by including modules of different cover, for example, you may wish to add cover to help you get diagnosed when there is a problem. This would cover the costs of you having an appointment with a private consultant to establish the next course of action and having scans as an out-patient.
There are many different providers with different options. We recognise that you may need some help finding the policy to suit you, so we’ve made it simple.
What isn’t covered by health insurance?
There are, of course, some things that simply won’t be covered by health insurance. These include:
- Any condition you have, or have had before taking out a policy. This is known as pre-existing
- Any treatment of chronic conditions you may have. By this we mean an ongoing, long term or recurring condition
- A & E visits
When selecting the standard cover of your health insurance, you will have the ability to tailor a policy to suit your needs and find the peace of mind you deserve.
Through a diverse range of products and modular options you can add different levels of cover, whilst keeping the policy affordable for you.
These various options include;
- Out-patient Cover
- Comprehensive Cancer Cover
- Mental Health Cover
- Therapies Cover
- Differing Excess levels
- Hospital lists
It’s your choice to design your cover. You can either select the options most important to you or take a more comprehensive approach.
For example, if your primary concern is to be covered for cancer, you should look for a policy with the highest cover available for cancer treatment. This could include radiotherapy and chemotherapy, surgery, access to more expensive drugs such as Avastin and Herceptin, or experimental treatments not readily available, and monitoring post-treatment.
If, however, you are happy to use the NHS should you ever need treatment for cancer and are more interested in ensuring that you can get a diagnosis quickly, you would look at out-patient options on a policy. Modular policies allow you to take this personalised approach and design cover around what is important to you, not the market as a whole.
How to save on health insurance premiums
There are a number of ways to drive down your health insurance quote. One of the most effective ways of finding a cheaper premium is to shop around and compare health insurance quotes.
Other money-saving tips include:
No claims discount
If you don’t make a claim on your policy, you can build up a no claims discount and you could see a deduction applied to your premium. However if you do make a claim, this could affect your renewal premium and potentially push future quotes up.
You may be asked about certain aspects of your lifestyle when applying for medical insurance, for example, being a smoker can often increase the cost of your premiums. If you do smoke, quitting cigarettes could lower the price of your premium but you will need to abstain from all tobacco-products for at least 12 months to be officially considered a non-smoker.
Some providers include discounted gym membership with their policies, so this is definitely worth looking into if you love the gym or want an excuse to start going.
Health insurance a-z
Understanding health insurance can be a daunting task, never mind reading through pages of policy documentation that is full of insurance terms. That’s why we are here to help and have made a directory to simplify what we mean;
Certificate of insurance: Sometimes referred to as a membership certificate, this is the documentation you receive from your insurer which summarises your cover. You may have to provide it if you wish to switch to another insurer or make a claim.
Day-patient: To qualify as a day patient, you will typically return home on the same day as your test or procedure and have taken up a bed whilst in hospital.
Excess: An excess is the amount you agree to pay at the point of claim before the insurance starts to pay out. A higher excess can also sometimes be used to reduce a monthly premium.
Exclusion: An exclusion is something an insurance company will not cover, ranging from a specific condition, treatment or selection of hospitals.
FCA- Financial Conduct Authority: The financial regulatory body in the UK, which regulates the financial markets to ensure that firms treat their customers fairly and act with integrity.
FOS- Financial Ombudsmen Service: An independent service in the UK designed to settle unresolved disputes between businesses providing financial services & their customers.
Full medical underwriting: Based on your full medical history, this may require a medical exam and doctor’s notes. With full medical underwriting, there is more certainty of what is covered on your policy and what is excluded.
In-patient: To qualify as an in-patient, you must have been admitted to hospital and spent at least one night in a hospital bed.
IPT – Insurance Premium Tax: The tax levied on general insurance premiums if living within the UK.
Moratorium underwriting: A more simple and quick form of underwriting that does not require your full medical history, although may not cover you for illnesses or conditions that occurred in the last few years. With this option, it’s important to be completely clear on what your provider considers to be a ‘pre-existing’ condition.
NCD – No claims discount: A discount applied to a premium, typically applied when no claim has been made.
Out-patient: A patient who visits hospital typically for a diagnostic test or consultation.
Self- pay: The term self-pay is used when someone receives private medical treatment and decides to pay their medical bill directly, without claiming on their insurance.
Underwriting: The underwriting of a policy measures the risk of someone’s health which then stipulates the terms and conditions of a policy.
What to remember when claiming;
To have the reassurance that your eligible claim will be paid for in full, most insurers will advise that you contact them before undergoing treatment in order to pre-authorise a claim.
There are two generic guidelines issued by the insurers which you should follow. The first guideline set out by insurers is that no claim will be paid for a pre-existing condition, or any exclusion that is stated on your policy documentation unless your policy document specifically includes it.
If you’re receiving treatment for something you had before joining up for health insurance, or that has been identified as an endorsement or exclusion on your policy, you will have to take the self-pay route and fund the treatment yourself.
The second guideline from insurers is that if you are receiving treatment for a new condition and go outside of the hospital list, you may be expected to pay part or all of the costs.
What else should you know?
The private health insurance comparison service on MoneySuperMarket.com is provided by Health-on-Line Company (UK) Ltd. Health-on-Line Company (UK) Ltd, is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 308776). Office address: 80 Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH8 8AQ, United Kingdom.
Registered address: 5 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1AD. Health-on-Line Company (UK) Ltd is not part of MoneySuperMarket.com Financial group Limited of which MoneySuperMarket.com Limited forms part.
The Financial Conduct Authority is there to protect you. The FCA is a regulatory body designed to ensure that you as the consumer are cared for and all products are sold appropriately. Of course if you do have any queries or concerns about the way in which your policy was sold or about the level of cover, Customer Relation teams are there to address these concerns.
We understand that Health Insurance, despite being optional, can be the difference in having peace of mind or not and therefore plays an important part of your life. If you feel dissatisfied with the outcome of your complaint, there is the option to ask the Financial Ombudsmen Service, an independent body, to consider your complaint. You can contact them on 0845 080 1800 and find out whether your complaint is eligible.
There are of course other questions that you may want to know the answers to. In this scenario, please contact your provider to discuss your personal policy.