Great Britain is one of very few nations that provides free healthcare to all of its residents. So why would you want to opt to pay for Private Medical Insurance (PMI) in the UK? According to health care specialists Bupa, the main reasons people choose private healthcare include the fear of superbugs (MRSA etc), a desire to avoid lengthy waiting lists and hospital cleanliness.
What Is It?
Private medical insurance entitles you to avoiding long NHS waiting lists and receive fast-track consultations and private treatment for short-term, curable medical problems in a NHS or private hospital. The price of private medical insurance depends on different sets of criteria. Premiums will be relative to the following factors: level of cover, age, state of health, whether you smoke etc.
Types Of Private Medical Insurance
There are two types of PMI and the main difference is the way that your medical history is treated.
Moratorium is the more basic PMI policy which provides a blanket-like exclusion for all pre-existing medical conditions over the last few years. This is usually the most cost-effective PMI for those who do not have any preexisting medical conditions that have recently flared up. This is probably not the best form of medical insurance if your medical history is varied and extensive.
This type of PMI policy is more protective as it requires you to divulge your full medical history to ascertain what you will and won’t be covered for.
What Does Private Medical Insurance Cover?
Most standard plans cover all the essential treatments like surgery, consultations, nursing and hospital care. The more extensive PMI policies can include a variety of other benefits from personal accident cover to complimentary medicine as standard. The majority of medical insurance policies will not include cover for the following:
- Substance abuse (alcoholism or drug addiction)
- Dental treatment
- Overseas treatment
- Cosmetic surgery
- GP services
- Extreme sports
Limitations Of PMI
Although private medical insurance provides protection from a lot of things and many benefits, there are also drawbacks to this private protection:
- PMI does not replace all NHS services i.e. Accident and Emergency treatment is not covered
- In certain circumstances you will not receive faster treatment i.e in the case of very serious illnesses
- You won’t always receive treatment in a private hospital- you may be placed in a private patient unit within an NHS hospital. And in some cases you may be put in an NHS ward rather than in a private room.
- You will not have completely unrestricted choice over your treatment; where you are treated and by whom. Check with your insurer when you take out your policy what choices are available for you but remember the broader the selection you make, the more your premium will cost.
If you find that these types of medical insurance policies are not relevant enough for your situation but still wish to take out a medical policy there are specialist alternatives. These include Critical Illness Insurance and Long-Term Care to name a couple.