Do you really need private health insurance if there’s national healthcare available?

With waiting times in hospitals hitting the headlines in recent years for all the wrong reasons, many people are now considering if they need private healthcare. Although many employers offer health insurance as part of a benefits package for employees, some people choose to take it out themselves to in order to offer an extra layer of protection in addition what’s already provided by the NHS.

If you don’t currently have private insurance as part of your benefit’s package at work, you may want to know if having a private health insurance plan is right for you. So, what is private health insurance and do you need it?

Private Health Insurance

UK residents receive free healthcare from the NHS. A private medical insurance plan will pay for all or a specific portion of your medical bills if you choose to be treated privately. This gives you a choice of the level of care you receive, as well as when you receive it.

You don’t need to take out a private health insurance, but if you don’t want to use services provided by the NHS, you could have difficulty paying for private medical treatment without insurance, particularly with serious conditions.

What’s Covered

As with all kinds of insurance, the coverage you receive from private health insurance depends on the type of policy you buy. Basic private health insurance usually covers the cost of most in-patient treatments such as tests and surgery.

There are some policies that will cover to outpatient treatments such as specialists, but you might have to pay a small amount for each night you are admitted in a hospital that is under the NHS plan.

What’s Not Covered

Private medical insurance usually doesn’t cover treatment for:

  • Pre-existing conditions.
  • Chronic diseases such as HIV or AIDS-related illnesses.
  • Organ transplants.

Depending on the type of policy you choose, you may have coverage for mental health issues and sports injuries, but these aren’t always covered. In addition, neither will cosmetic surgical procedures solely to improve your appearance.
It is vital that you read the small print of what is covered in your policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.

Things to Think About

Although there are some advantages to private health care, there are some things you should consider before buying any policy.

  • Can you afford it?
  • Could you meet unexpected additional medical costs, such a long stay in a hospital should you not recover as quickly as expected.
  • Does the policy cover any complications that may occur during treatment?

Specialist Treatment

Private health insurance can be of value if you need treatment by a specialist. For example, if you’re a sports enthusiast, it could be beneficial to have the additional coverage in case of injury.

If you do decide to purchase private health insurance, you still have the right to use the NHS. It remains in place as a safety net for medical expenses not covered by your private insurance policy.