While the NHS will usually provide treatment, patients may not know how long they will be on waiting lists for and therefore opt for private medical insurance to aid a swift recovery.
Different types of cover
Health insurance can take several different forms. With most private medical insurance policies, you pay a monthly premium and the policy will then pay out, up to specified cover limits, for any treatment you might need. With some policies, it is possible to reduce the cost of cover by demonstrating you lead a healthy lifestyle, for example, by going to the gym regularly.
There are also health cash plans. These will contribute towards your routine healthcare costs. They work by paying out a cash sum whenever you visit a dentist or other medical practitioner, such as a chiropodist or optician, which you can spend on what you want.
What you should check for?
Premiums on medical insurance policies tend to get higher the older you are, although there are exceptions.
Many policies charge an excess - the portion of any insurance policy you must pay yourself. For those looking for more comprehensive cover, but who still want to keep costs down, one option is to choose a medical insurance policy which offers a wider range of benefits but which enables you to select a higher excess. Remember, however, that if you take this route, you could end up paying for treatment for a long time without ever reaching the excess level.
Before buying cover, find out exactly what benefits the policy you are interested in will pay out. If you opt for a very low cost plan, then the chances are it may only pay hospital admission costs, and not out-patient costs. Seeing as only around one in five referrals by GPs leads to hospital admissions, policies which don't cover out-patient costs are likely to be much less usable than those that do.
You should always read the small print of policies to find out whether there are any particular illnesses and treatments that aren't covered too.
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