If you are a citizen of the UK, you must be well aware of the NHS, which is the state provided health service. It covers you for a wide range of illnesses and injuries, and is a source of pride. However, although we try not to be ungrateful, we must also realize that there are several areas where it does not deliver complete satisfaction, areas where it leaves space for further progress. While we cannot wait for the government to do so, we can resort to other alternatives. Private insurance providers have realized this and therefore, have offered private health insurance policies of their own. One of these policies is known as Private Medical Insurance (PMI).
What exactly is a Private Medical Insurance?
A PMI is a private health insurance policy, which is offered across the UK, by many different insurance providers. In many areas, it is like NHS. However, unlike NHS, this policy can be tailor-made for your specific preferences and can be just what you want it to be. It covers you for a wide range of acute conditions and allow you to take total control of how your treatment goes about.
Why would I need a PMI, when I already have a NHS?
This goes down as the most commonly asked question, as people become perplexed as to why they would need a PMI, when they already have a state administered policy. However, once the differences are explained, the reason becomes evident. For starters, you would immediately be skipping the NHS queues and getting your treatment done based on your own discretion. NHS makes you wait in line. Not on purpose, but due to the fact that its resources are rather overstretched. Therefore, if you have a condition, you cannot be sure of when exactly can you get the treatment done. With a PMI, you can choose when you want your treatment done and thus, the certainty factor. Furthermore, the amount of personalization you can get with a PMI is something NHS cannot parallel. You would automatically be allotted to a specific hospital, with a random consultant and a room, all of which you have no say in. Now if you are uncomfortable with any of these, you would just have to adjust. With a PMI, there is no room for compromise. You get what you need. Choose your own room, doctor and hospital. Even the visiting hours are not restricted. In addition, the quality of service and cleanliness these private profit-driven hospitals allow you is a rare sight when it comes to NHS. These are some of the factors why you might need a PMI, while you still have a NHS.
Does having a PMI mean I do not need NHS anymore?
We prefer seeing a PMI as more of a complementary policy to the NHS, than a replacement one. There are many reasons why NHS would still be required. For instance, private hospitals do not have A&E departments and thus, in such situations, you would have to resort to NHS.
What does ‘acute conditions’ mean?
Acute conditions refer to different illnesses and injuries, which can be treated on a short-term basis. These do not require a lengthy treatment and a few appointments should do the trick. Perhaps you fell off your stairs and injured your knee or you got diagnosed with a flu – these and other such conditions are covered by this policy.
Is there any area where I would not be covered?
Since it clearly mentions that it covers acute conditions, those conditions, which do not fall in this category, and some other conditions are not covered. You must be wary of this when you opt for this policy. Some of the conditions a PMI would not cover you for include incurable conditions, long-term illnesses, planned pregnancy, self-inflicted damage, organ transplants, cosmetic surgeries, et cetera.
How much should I expect to pay?
The level of personalization offered by a PMI saves you the trouble of paying a fixed amount. If this was so, the personalization options would have little meaning. Here, you do not have to pay any specific amount. It depends on you how expensive you want your policy to be. The determinants of the cost either depend on you or your choices. If you are old and you smoke, prepare yourself to pay more than a young non-smoker. These and several such factors about you are taken into consideration for cost determination purposes. This is because they determine the risk associated with insuring you. Moving on to your choices, you get to pick from wide and narrow coverage, and you are also in charge of determining how specific you want your policy to be, all of which come together and determine the cost of your plan. If you intend on keeping it as low as possible, try not to be very specific about your hospital and its doctors, and the room you’d like to be allotted to. The more personalized your plan, the higher its cost. Therefore, expect to pay according to your preferences.
How should I pick one out?
You are likely to come across a whole bunch of different policies. The best way to choose one is by putting forth your preferences and situation. The worst mistake you could make is get a policy, which is either incompetent of protecting you or way too expensive for your financial capacity. Therefore you need a sense of balance between both the factors. If you have a tight budget, browse through the policies and see the best cover you can get for that amount. If it is flexible, try and note down what you need and see which provider offers these at the most competitive price.
How much of my medical expenses would it cover?
When you will set about browsing through the policies, you will realize the amount of choices that are available to you. These choices are not just limited to what hospital or doctor you want, but also allow you to determine how much coverage you require. If you want a more pocket-friendly policy, which does not put your financial situation under any duress, you can opt for a shared risk policy, in which the cost of your treatment is shared between you and the insurer. However, there is no lack of policies, which cover your entire treatment. The latter, obviously, cost more.
Any special considerations I need to keep in mind?
The primary gaffe to sidestep is not reading the small print. You do not want to turn towards your policy only to find out it does not protect you where you need protection. Similarly, make sure your policy is affordable. If your policy stands up to these two conditions, the next thing to keep in mind is being honest with your health assessment. If you have a condition or any habit, which might affect your health, make sure your policy provider is aware of it. Deliberately hiding any such information could void your policy.