May 21, 2022
  • May 21, 2022

Do I need to take out private health insurance?

By on November 16, 2021 0

The NHS is creaking. A record 5.6 million people are on waiting lists for treatment in England, a number that could reach 14 million in one year, Kate Hughes says in The Independent. Faced with long waiting times, more and more people are opting for the private sector. Only 13% of Britons had private medical insurance (PMI) before the pandemic, but a ‘rush’ among young buyers has dropped the average age of people writing policies from 40 to just 33 in the past year .

Medical insurance works like any other insurance policy, explains’s Nick Green. “You pay a monthly premium… and you claim your insurance if you need treatment. People with PMI may benefit from faster referrals, may have access to specialist medicines not available on the NHS, and may enjoy other benefits such as a private hospital room. You will still need the NHS for pre-existing and chronic conditions such as diabetes and emergency treatment.

The cost of the PMI depends on factors such as age, smoking habits, and location. “A 35-year-old couple can expect to pay between £ 700 and £ 1,000 a year, while a 55-year-old couple will be billed on average between £ 1,200 and £ 2,000,” Helena Kelly notes in the Daily Mail. “Premiums typically increase between 9% and 14% each year, in line with medical inflation, which always far exceeds general inflation. ”

There are ways to cut costs, says Dean Sobers, whose. Policies that limit the number of hospitals you can choose from, or that only start when the NHS can’t treat you within six weeks, are cheaper. Removing outpatient coverage – that is, private consultations and exams – “can reduce the annual premium by hundreds of dollars.” As with other insurances, choosing a higher deductible will also result in lower premiums.

Remember to self-insure

Almost three-quarters of PMI policies are held in company programs, which means that they are offered by companies to their employees. For those who do not have such employer coverage, another option is to self-insure: you save the premium you would have paid for the insurance each month and use the resulting cash to fund your own treatment if you never wanted to become private.

Many private treatments are available to those with savings. Cataract surgery costs around £ 2,500 per eye, while a knee or hip replacement will cost you between £ 10,000 and £ 15,000. If you don’t need treatment, you keep the money you put aside.

Insurance is there to protect you against losses that you cannot afford to cover on your own (which is why insuring a new smartphone is usually not a good idea). In extreme cases that may apply to PMI: Times highlights breast cancer patient who was forced to retire due to delays during lockdown, costing her insurer “more of £ 65,000 ”.

Yet in life threatening circumstances most of us would turn to the NHS first. “If you have a serious illness such as cancer, heart disease or stroke, you will receive priority treatment from the NHS. NHS hospitals can be as good, if not better, than private hospitals, ”explains the government’s MoneyHelper site. “Basic insurance, such as auto and home insurance – and life insurance if you have dependents” is a higher priority than PMI.

For now, PMI is still seen as more of a luxury than a necessity. Yet as health services tackle the Covid-19 backlog, the number of people wondering if they can really count on the NHS will only increase.