In this guide, we look at family medical insurance in the UK, what it is, its benefits and the private healthcare it provides access to. With NHS waiting lists growing each year, it's no wonder an ever-increasing proportion of parents choose to take out family private medical insurance.
Family medical insurance, often called family health insurance, is an annual insurance policy which will give you and your family access to private medical treatment in the UK, should you ever need it. With several levels of cover available from a variety of providers, it always pays to research the options and speak to an independent expert before buying a policy.
Family private health care is provided by a nationwide network of private hospitals and clinics, which, rather than being funded via the NHS, are privately financed, either via insurance or directly from the patient. While you don’t need medical insurance to access private health care, it can help keep costs down, especially if your treatment is for something complex like cancer.
Family medical insurance will cover the cost of private medical treatment for acute medical conditions. Chronic conditions, meaning those that cannot be cured or will not respond to treatment, are not covered by family medical insurance. What is and isn’t covered will, of course, vary from policy to policy, but perhaps the biggest difference between coverage is how outpatient diagnosis and treatment is provided.
Inpatient treatment is defined as a medical procedure where the use of a bed overnight is required. It could be that you need to be monitored overnight, or you’re staying in the hospital for several days - in both of those cases, you would be an inpatient.
Outpatient treatment is where you do not require a bed in the hospital overnight; an example could be a hospital visit for some physiotherapy or some counselling. In both instances, you would be receiving treatment as an outpatient.
If you carry out a health insurance comparison you’ll find that all policies, regardless of their price, will include inpatient cover as standard; it’s the baseline for all policies in the UK. One of the biggest variables in your quotes will be the level of outpatient cover you have, which won’t be included as standard in most basic policies. As your budget increases, you’ll start to see policies which include some or all outpatient diagnosis and treatments. Still, you may find that even the most comprehensive of policies don’t include cover for things such as psychiatric care or routine dental and optical care - these will be additional extras you’ll need to add to your policy.
As we’ve mentioned, there are several levels of outpatient cover you can choose to have, these include:
Choosing the level of outpatient cover you have on your family medical insurance will be one of the most important decisions you make. Remember, if you don’t have any outpatient cover, you will still need to be diagnosed through the NHS, before potentially receiving inpatient treatment privately. When we compare health insurance policies we always try and include some outpatient cover for this precise reason, and to help avoid you being stuck on an NHS waiting list.
If you’re interested in family medical insurance there are a number of things you can do to make the cost of a policy more affordable, such as:
The top five providers of family private medical insurance in the UK are:
myTribe provides a free of charge family health insurance comparison service, whereby we will go out to all of the leading providers and come back to you with the best prices currently available.
Disclaimer: This information is general and what is best for you will depend on your personal circumstances. Please speak with a financial adviser or do your own research before making a decision.
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*Based on 461 quotes between 01/22-01/23