While private health insurance provides some clear advantages over public healthcare, it’s important to take a step back and review the tangible benefits. By addressing some of the most frequently asked questions our advisers deal with, we hope to provide you with a framework to make the most informed decisions about healthcare for yourself, your family, and your business.
Let’s start with the basics.
What are the main advantages of private healthcare?
Those with private health insurance will be able to access advice and treatment that need much more quickly. Not only can they bypass overwhelming NHS waiting lists, but private patients can also choose appointments to suit their own schedule for minimal disruption. Choice is really the key word here because private patients also have many more options when it comes to both when and where they choose to have treatment.
The latter means you can select your hospital based on convenience – how close it is to your home or workplace as well as other more detailed aspects such as their visitor policy and facilities available. All of these details will minimise stress and help you feel more comfortable with a far more personalised experience. This provides welcome relief during a time when you may already be feeling anxious about your health.
Do I need a GP referral to see a private consultant?
This is one of the most common misconceptions about private healthcare. Some people feel initially deterred by having to speak with their GP before making an appointment with a private consultant. While you may often need to speak with your GP first, there are many consultants available who will take appointments without such a referral. In addition, most policies come with around-the-clock access to live video GP consultations, taking all the hassle out of the process.
Either way, you have a plethora of choices available when it comes to choosing your consultant and he/she will always keep your GP informed about your progress to provide the best continuity of care. It ultimately comes down to the specifics of your policy. Some insurers may only accredit certain consultants but the majority will generally allow you to choose your preferred consultant.
Will my policy cover pre-existing conditions?
Broadly speaking, policies will not cover conditions diagnosed before you take out the policy. However, this may depend on the type of underwriting that you choose, i.e., moratorium underwriting or full medical underwriting.
If you choose the former, you may be able to get cover for a pre-existing condition in the five years prior to taking out insurance. However, you’ll often only be covered for it once you’ve been free from medication, treatment, diagnostic tests or advice for the condition for two continuous years after your cover begins.
There are pros and cons to each type of underwriting when it comes to pre-existing conditions and in a broader sense. That’s why it’s important to talk to an expert before choosing your policy.
What about pre-existing mental health conditions?
Even if you have a history of mental illness, that doesn’t automatically mean you cannot access future support (depending on your chosen policy). Mental health covers a huge variety of symptoms and conditions, so you may be able to access cover for similar symptoms that are connected to different conditions – e.g., if you’ve suffered from postpartum anxiety, your insurer may still cover you for unrelated episodes of anxiety.
Should I be concerned that accessing treatment through private healthcare is negatively impacting the NHS?
Some of our clients feel concerned that taking the private route is, in some way, undercutting the NHS. Feelings of this kind are especially prevalent during the post-pandemic era where we have all celebrated the incredible achievements of the NHS in battling COVID-19. However, there are two strong counter-arguments to this concern.
First of all, a large number of private hospital beds are now occupied by NHS patients, meaning those who are in really desperate need are gaining access to support, facilities and services that would simply not be available on the NHS. The private sector is actually supporting the public in this aspect.
In addition, everybody needs to prioritise their own personal healthcare journey. If you are financially able to invest into private healthcare services, it really is the most effective route for speedy access to high-quality healthcare. Faster access to support is likely to mean faster diagnosis and treatment, minimising the risk of conditions escalating and being more difficult or complex to treat.
For advice and guidance with choosing the right policy, please contact our expert health insurance brokers at Vintage Health.