While private medical insurance (PMI) has traditionally been seen as the premise of the wealthy and/or older generations, things have changed dramatically over the past few decades. A combination of consistently higher quality private care and access to the very best treatments has developed hand in hand with untenable NHS waiting lists and a growing health consciousness across the generations.
In more recent times and since the onset of Covid-19, NHS waiting times have stretched ever longer with great uncertainty surrounding when and how services will return to any semblance of normal. With NHS waiting lists at breaking point even before COVID, waiting times for planned hospital procedures through public services now range from 30 weeks to over a year in some areas as NHS medics continue working to battle the backlog created by the pandemic. With a record 5.6 million people now waiting for treatment, another 150,000 people are being added every month. A&E admissions are also growing as a result of people waiting longer for treatment.
All of these factors combined mean that we have reached a point whereby the average age of a person investing in health insurance is now 33 years old. Dropping significantly even from last year when the average age was 40, more and more consumers are recognising that public resources simply cannot meet demand in line with individuals’ needs and expectations of medical care. When it comes to the point where NHS patients may need to wait months or even years to access referral to a specialist, diagnosis, and effective treatment, it’s no surprise that PMI cover is becoming more the norm.
The benefits of taking out PMI cover earlier in life
This marked shift in the age of those investing in private healthcare is a positive indicator of shifting perceptions around just how valuable it is. The evergreen benefits of going private remain consistent across the age groups – namely, faster access to the best quality healthcare professionals for expedited diagnosis and treatment to optimise outcomes. However, there are a number of more specific benefits for the 30-somethings.
Firstly, this is the age where many of us have chosen to start a family and have people who depend on us financially. Protecting both our health and finances should be key priorities – many PMI policies also offer savings for families so that you can protect your children too.
Another key benefit of taking out PMI earlier in life is that older consumers are more likely to have higher health needs and higher premiums. Back in 2018, the watchdog found that the over-60s are paying 33% more than younger people for health insurance, because of “market segmentation” by insurers. For example, older generations are likely to have a higher requirement for orthopaedic cover which may only be available with more expensive policies.
Taking out cover at a younger age also means you can access protection for many conditions that commonly develop as we head into middle and older age. If we wait and take out insurance later, then we are at greater risk of developing health issues, making it not only more difficult to find effective coverage but also meaning we may not be covered at all for pre-existing medical conditions. This is reflected in premium prices once again, as younger people are generally considered lower risk by insurers, meaning it makes good financial sense to lock in a lower rate when you’re in your 30s and in good health.
Choosing the right PMI policy
Contrary to popular belief, individuals that take out private healthcare policies are still entitled to use NHS services as and when needed. This would most commonly be for chronic or pre-existing conditions, and sometimes in emergency situations. This will likely depend on the type and extent of cover provided by your private policy, which can include everything from more basic services and outpatient treatment to more extended cover such as overnight hospital stays.
Choosing the right policy is important but the process has become more complex in recent times in the facing of rising premiums caused by increased use and cost of treatment. The market has also become more diverse with a wider range of options available meaning consumers must read terms and conditions carefully in order to find the best deal. For advice and support with accessing the very best deals on the market, contact our specialist team today.
Disclaimer: The information contained within this communication does not constitute financial advice and is provided for general information purposes only. No warranty, whether express or implied is given in relation to such information. Vintage Health or any of its associated representatives shall not be liable for any technical, editorial, typographical or other errors or omissions within the content of this communication.