The NHS is part of the fabric of UK life and yet there is also a thriving private health insurance industry. Why is this and should you be looking at private healthcare insurance for you and your loved ones?
Healthcare insurance may give you more control over when you are treated
While TV dramas may focus on people being rushed to hospital in ambulances for emergency surgery, the reality is that accident and emergency services are only one part of healthcare. Other forms of treatment can be and are scheduled. Those with insurance may be able to take advantage of their cover to arrange for treatment at the time which is most convenient to them (or at least has the minimum inconvenience) rather than simply having to accept the slot allocated to them by the NHS. Likewise those with healthcare insurance may be able to see a relevant specialist more quickly to have their symptoms and/or concerns assessed. In other words, if there is a need for further medical treatments, this can be identified more promptly.
Healthcare insurance may make it possible to access treatment at a more convenient location
An obvious example of this is dental treatment. Private dentists may or may not accept NHS patients at all and if they do they may have limited spaces available for them. Having private health cover may make it possible for you to access a private dental clinic near to you rather than having to find the nearest NHS dentist with availability. Having private healthcare insurance may also make it possible for you to access purely private hospitals which do not accept NHS patients at all.
Healthcare insurance may give you a higher standard of care
By care we mean general care, rather than clinical treatment. As an NHS patient you may find yourself sharing a ward with other people and eating from a menu which is restricted for reasons of practicality rather than for clinical reasons. Having private healthcare insurance may enable you to have a private room and a better choice of food options. It may also mean you get access to amenities such as WiFi while you are in hospital, possibly making it easier to keep in touch with loved ones (or at least stave off the boredom of bed rest). It may even make it possible for you to receive visitors whenever you want, rather than being restricted to designated visiting hours.
Healthcare insurance may offer treatment options outside of what the NHS can offer
The NHS is designed to cater for essential treatment and to provide essential supporting equipment. The key word here is essential as opposed to simply beneficial. Private healthcare can help to bridge this gap. For example it may pay for extra physiotherapy sessions and/or help to upgrade you to a more comfortable wheelchair until you are ready to walk again.
Would you and your loved ones benefit from health insurance?
Ask yourself a simple question. If you did not have your health, how would you and your family cope? There are really two aspects to this question. One aspect is practical and in particular financial and the other is emotional. Taking steps to resolve practical issues and to ensure that you and your family are supported financially and can afford whatever you need to help you regain your health as quickly as possible, can go a long way towards mitigating the emotional challenges of dealing with health issues. In addition to private healthcare insurance, you may also want to look at other types of insurance to support you in periods of ill health such as payment protection insurance and critical illness cover. You may also wish to review your life insurance to make sure that those you love are adequately protected from the financial impact of anything happening to you.