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Individual Health Insurance

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Last updated: 24 November 2020

If you find trips to the hospital particularly stressful, it is worth looking for health insurance plans.  These packages financially cover you for certain treatments with private healthcare providers, which ensures that you can have the fastest and most personal care possible.

What is individual health insurance?

Individual health insurance is paid for by yourself, in the form of premiums, which can cover the costs of certain kinds of private healthcare that you might require.  This will allow you to skip those long waiting times in NHS hospitals, as well as often giving you a private room when you are being treated, as opposed to being in a large ward in an NHS hospital.

On top of this, you may have access to a greater variety of treatments, giving you greater flexibility in the ways that you are treated.  You may also be able to choose where you receive treatment, again giving you more flexibility and options.

You will still be able to use the NHS, as these health insurance plans work alongside NHS treatment.  

Be aware though, that individual health insurance is different from critical illness life insurance.  Health insurance covers the potential costs of medical treatment that you may require, whereas critical illness life insurance covers any financial earnings that you may lose as a result of illness, usually in the form of a lump sum payout.

What does individual health insurance cover?

Health insurance covers a host of different forms of healthcare, depending on what plan that you choose.  As you would expect, the more expensive your private medical insurance plan is, the more comprehensive it will be.  It is important, therefore, to compare health insurance packages to find the right deal for you and your health.  This usually comes with the choice from three tiers of cover:

  • Basic – usually includes inpatient hospital treatment, medication, and cover for some cancer patients
  • Moderate – also includes outpatient costs
  • Comprehensive – on top of the above, usually includes mental health and physiotherapy cover
Depending on the policy that you choose, healthcare covered by health insurance plans can include:

  • Dentistry
  • Eye care
  • Physiotherapy
  • Homeopathy
  • Pregnancy care and postnatal maternity care
  • Mental health treatment and support

What is not covered by individual health insurance?

There are some aspects of healthcare that insurers will not provide cover for, as the risks and costs of treatment are too high for them.  For these, don’t worry, the NHS will provide excellent care.  Such things include:
  • Accident and Emergency treatment
  • Organ transplants
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Infertility
  • Cosmetic treatments
  • Mobility aids

How do I apply for individual health insurance?

Applying for health insurance is a fairly straightforward task.  The insurance provider will ask you a series of questions, which will allow them to calculate the risk involved and the costs of your premiums.  These will often include questions about your age, medical history and lifestyle, such as whether you smoke or your alcohol consumption.

Although this may sound strange, where you live may be taken into account, as insurers consider some areas to be of higher risk than others.  For example, those who live in Central London will be considered at higher risk than someone who lives in the countryside, with factors such as pollution being able to affect your health.

Getting Cheaper Health insurance

The cost of your premiums will depend on what kind of health insurance plan you choose.  If you choose a cheaper plan, then you will be covered for less, so think carefully about what you may need when you compare health insurance packages.

Insurers will also give you cheaper premiums if they consider you to be of low risk.  This is usually judged by how healthy your lifestyle is, so if you quit smoking or eat a better diet and exercise regularly, you will be able to get cheaper deals.  So staying healthy can be not only be better for you body, but also for your wallet too!

You can also get cheaper premiums if you choose to have a higher voluntary excess on your deal.  However, although this may be cheaper in the short run, make sure that you will be able to afford the excess if you need to make a claim, otherwise the money that you have spent on the premiums will have been wasted.

It is also worth looking at health cash plans, which can be cheaper than being fully insured.  These involve giving you cash back as a portion of your healthcare costs whenever you visit a private medical professional.

What else do I need to know?

There are a number of things to be aware of when you use health insurance.  These will differ with each package, so be sure to check the Terms and Conditions of your deal.  For example, you will only be able to use certain hospitals that are specified as part of your plan, but with higher premiums you will be covered by more.

There are also usually specified maximum costs that are covered for treatments by insurers, so if you wish to have treatment that costs more, you will have to cover the difference yourself.

On top of this, depending on the treatment that you need and your location, you may not always be able to be treated in a private hospital.  Some NHS hospitals have private patient units, or you may be treated on a ward rather than a private room. 

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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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