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Health Insurance for Older People

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Last updated: 07 July 2020

If you are getting older and wondering about private healthcare so you can avoid those long and stressful visits to NHS hospitals, then don’t worry, there are increasingly more and more insurance options available so you can get the healthcare service that you need. 

What is elderly health insurance?

The way that health insurance works is that private medical insurance companies will pay for your treatment at private healthcare facilities when you need it, which they fund through you paying monthly premiums.

When you are older, you will naturally cost more to the insurance companies, due to needing more care than someone who is say, 25 years of age.  Due to this, it is more expensive to get insurance when you are older, but increasingly there are a number of companies, such as Saga, who specialise in elderly health insurance.

Some insurers have maximum ages for their policies that people can take cover out for, but a good number do not, meaning that you will be able to receive cover until you stop paying premiums.  There are also policy packages designed for those of different age bands, for example insurers may have plans for over 50s, or a health insurance over 65s plan.  It is best therefore, to compare health insurance quotes from a number of different providers to make sure that you get the right package for you.

Should I get elderly health insurance?

This is a question that only you can answer, as it is a large financial commitment.  However, if you believe that you can afford it, being able to have peace of mind surrounding your health and finances could be very valuable.

Health insurance includes treatment at private hospitals, which will often cut down the waiting times that you will need to endure, as well as often providing a private room to be treated in, rather than a busy and stressful NHS ward.  This will allow you to be treated in comfort and give you the care that you need, as private hospitals usually have a higher staff to patient ratio than NHS hospitals.

What is covered by elderley health insurance?

What you get covered by your health insurance plan depends on the package that you choose.  Generally, the higher your premiums, the more that you will have covered, as well as a higher maximum cost of treatment allowed.

There are generally different levels of insurance.  Saga, who specialise in elderly health insurance have four:

  • Support: This is the basic package which covers many inpatient costs, such as consultations, treatments, surgery, and hospital accommodation fees.  This does not however include cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy, or diagnostic checks such as MRI or CT scans, or therapy.
  • Saver Plus: Includes radiotherapy, chemotherapy, diagnostic tests, home nursing and physiotherapy on top of what is included in the Support package.
  • Secure: Includes all of the above but also ambulance transport costs and recuperative care.
  • Super: Fully inclusive, adds psychiatric and dental treatment as well as what is mentioned above.

How do I get health insurance for older people?

Getting elderly health insurance is a similar process to any other kind of health insurance.  You will be asked a series of questions about yourself, such as your age, medical history and questions on your lifestyle, including whether you drink or smoke.  This allows insurers to calculate your ‘risk’, i.e. how likely it is that they will have to pay out, and how much your premiums will cost.

Some insurers will want you to undertake a medical, so that they have the most up to date information on you as possible, but not all of them will.  Also, if you have any pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it is unlikely that you will be able to find cover for your condition.  However, some insurers will cover treatment for it if you have been trouble free for a few years, so it is worth shopping around and comparing health insurance plans to find the deal that is best suited to your personal needs.

Getting Cheaper Health Insurance

The lower the ‘risk’ that a company deems you, the less that they will charge you for your premiums.  Insurers therefore offer discounts to those who live healthier lifestyles, so the best thing that you can do not only for your body but also your wallet, is to eat a healthier diet, drink less and quit smoking.  Some companies rely on BMI to measure how healthy your lifestyle is, while others use questionnaires.

You could also go for cheaper insurance packages, while minimising the optional extras that you choose.  These will cut down on your premium costs, although it is worth thinking about what you may need in the future, because if you aren’t covered, you could be hit by an unexpectedly large bill.

Some policies also include the six week rule option, which can significantly reduce your premiums.  This means that you will only be covered for private healthcare if NHS waiting lists for a treatment over six weeks long.  Consider this if you are on a budget.

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Fergus Cole

Author: Fergus Cole

Fergus is a journalist specialising in the personal finance, energy and broadband sectors. He also has a passion for travel and adventure so tries to make the most of this in any spare time he gets.

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