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Last updated: 08 November 2021
Mental health conditions are harder to diagnose and treat, simply because you cannot see them. However, in the UK recent figures show that one in four of us will suffer from some sort of mental health condition in any given year, this ranges from anxiety to schizophrenia. In most cases, health insurance will not cover you should have a pre-existing mental health condition, in which case you can use NHS services. If you find a policy that covers you, or are already insured when you become ill, there are a few options available to you that would not be on the NHS. This guide will take you through all you need to know about mental health insurance.
What is a mental health condition?
There is no specific one ‘mental health condition’, it’s a broad range of disorders which will affect your mental state. This can manifest itself in a wide variety of ways from eating disorders to addictions. First and foremost, you must consult your doctor if you believe that you are suffering from a mental health condition. From a medical perspective, it’s important to accurately diagnose a mental health condition before proceeding further. Having a diagnosis will also help you sort through your options when it comes to getting insurance.
Do I need insurance for a mental health condition?
It is important to be aware that the NHS offers a wide variety of healthcare services dedicated to mental health conditions. These will be free, but in some cases you will need to be referred from your GP first in order to access them. Referrals will be required for most drug and alcohol addictions, as well as psychological therapies services (IAPT). The wait times for NHS mental health services can be relatively long compared to other services, it’s important to go to your GP as early as possible should you suspect a issue with your mental health.
Will a mental health condition make my insurance more expensive?
When you apply for health insurance cover, the insurer will ask you if you have any pre-existing conditions, meaning any current conditions that could affect your insurance. The Equality Act of 2010 states that you cannot be discriminated against, unless this condition makes you riskier to insure. This means that when it comes to something such as property insurance, you are unlikely to be charged a higher premium. However, when it comes to medical insurance, there is a good chance you will be charged a heavier premium or you could be refused cover entirely.
Do I have to tell insurers?
When you are applying for medical insurance, they will often ask for your medical records meaning there is no point in trying to hide your condition from insurers. More importantly though, if you fail to disclose and then make a claim on your policy, the policy could be found to be void and you will not receive a payout. It’s always best to be upfront and honest about the state of your health when purchasing health insurance. And it’s a good idea to compare different health insurance polices, as the cover will vary depending on the insurer and what condition you have.
Another thing to be aware of is standard travel insurance will often not cover pre-existing health conditions too.
How to claim for mental illness
If you already have a health insurance policy and you are then diagnosed with a mental health condition, you should be able to make a claim. This will of course be dependent on your policy, but in most cases it should be covered. You will likely still require a referral from your GP, and then you or your insurance company can book an appointment for you with a private healthcare facility.
The good thing about already having cover is that health insurance will normally offer mental health services above and beyond what is currently available on the NHS. Most importantly though, the wait time for being seen will be significantly lower than on the NHS, which could be critical with a mental health condition.
Unfortunately, chronic mental health conditions will normally not be covered by private healthcare. This means that cover and treatment for conditions such as dementia, for which there is no cure, will be hard to find or prohibitively expensive.