by
Chris Steele
Published on
February 17, 2020
Last updated
February 20, 2020

Is private health insurance worth it?

Private health insurance can offer its users reduced waiting times and greater flexibility with respect to where, when and who provides their medical treatment, alongside many other significant benefits. But is private health insurance worth the money? This article looks at the pros and cons of private health insurance and by the end, we hope you will be able to decide for yourself.

Why do I need health insurance?

Speak to any medical professional, or insurer for that matter, and ask them why you need health insurance and they're likely to answer that you don’t necessarily need it, that it isn’t essential. In the UK we are lucky to have free access to healthcare via the NHS, so let’s not beat around the bush, private health insurance is a luxury, not a necessity. That said, there are still a significant number of benefits to having private medical insurance, which is why almost 11% of us in the UK have this type of protection.

To better understand whether you’d benefit from private health insurance, we’d recommend reading up on the topic and then speaking to an expert prior to reviewing policies. Here are a few of our recent articles which are a good place to start your reading:

  1. What is health insurance? - This article covers all of the basics and goes into some detail about how health insurance can benefit various types of people. 
  2. What is private healthcare? - This article focusses on how treatments work via private healthcare in the UK, including information about the various providers and hospitals.
  3. Best private health insurance - This article reviews the UK’s leading providers and their best policies.

Pros and Cons of Health Insurance

Before purchasing a health insurance policy, it’s important to make sure you’re aware of all of the benefits and the disadvantages that are associated. It’s quite common not to see value in all of the benefits a health insurance policy offers, which is why it’s worthwhile speaking to an expert to configure your plan before you buy. Don’t need to use central London hospitals? OK. Want access to a virtual GP? No problem. Simply let your advisor know what is and isn’t important to you and they will do the rest.

Benefits of Private Health Insurance

The benefits of private health insurance are numerous and while there are a number of them that will apply to everyone, there may be some more nuanced benefits that you only see from a certain policy or provider. In this article we look at the primary benefits; to discuss the individual benefits to yourself, please request a quote and an FCA approved advisor will be ready to speak to you.

Faster medical treatment

Waiting times on the NHS can be as long as 18 weeks or even more depending on where you are in the UK and the type of treatment you require. Private health insurance allows you to be seen and treated far quicker. 

If you have comprehensive health insurance, your diagnosis will also take place privately, speeding things up even more.

Have a dedicated consultant

Typically on the NHS you will see a variety of consultants so who you see may not always be the same as your last appointment. If you have private health insurance you will receive an appointed consultant who will take overall responsibility for your care. Not only that, you’ll actually have more of a say in who’s treating you. If you know there is a particular consultant who has had brilliant results treating your condition, you can simply ask for him or her.

Appointments at a time and place that suits you

Appointments via the NHS will usually be at a time and location that you have no control over. Privately, you can choose where and when your appointment will be and have a huge amount of flexibility over how you are treated.

High-quality facilities

Private hospitals are all competing against each other so you tend to see significant investment into hospital facilities. If you want access to the highest quality facilities then private health insurance is the way to go.

Access to cutting edge treatments and drugs

The NHS only has limited resources and you’ll often find that the latest and most expensive treatments and drugs won’t be available to you. One of the major benefits of private health insurance is that it gives you access to cutting edge drugs and treatments which may not be available yet on the NHS.

Private, ensuite rooms

Rather than being on a shared ward with strict visiting hours and rules, you’ll have a private room with an ensuite bathroom. Visiting hours will be far more flexible and in general, your stay in hospital should be much more comfortable.

Additional policy benefits

In addition to those listed above you may find that your health insurance policy gives you some of these additional benefits:

  1. Discounted gym memberships
  2. Regular health and fitness magazines
  3. Support when giving up smoking
  4. Discounted fitness products
  5. Lifestyle tips and trends
  6. Healthy recipe ideas
  7. Regular competitions to win prizes such as event tickets

Disadvantages of Private Health Insurance

As with anything, there are of course some disadvantages to private health insurance.

Only covers acute conditions

Private health insurance only covers the cost of treatment for conditions which are classed as acute, meaning those that will respond to treatment. Chronic, incurable conditions aren’t included. 

Excludes emergency and pregnancy

Private health insurance will always exclude emergency services and routine pregnancy. For either of these, you would still be seen via the NHS.

Existing conditions won’t be covered

Unlike the NHS, where they will treat you regardless of whether you have suffered from the issue in the past, private health insurance doesn’t usually cover pre-existing conditions, unless that is, you haven’t had symptoms for a set number of years.

Monthly premiums

Private health insurance isn’t free, which is a significant disadvantage when compared with  the NHS. You’ll also find that the cost of your insurance will usually increase every year as you age.

Finding a policy can be complicated (we can help)

Navigating the increasingly complex world of health insurance is a fulltime job, which is why our FCA approved advisors are here to answer any questions you may have and provide you with free policy advice.

Summary

On the whole, we believe that the benefits of private health insurance outweigh the disadvantages and it should always be remembered that it works alongside the NHS not instead of. When you look at it like that, you soon start to see that you will have all of the benefits of the NHS, plus those of private healthcare too.

Is health insurance worth it?

Returning to our original question of whether health insurance is worth paying for, we hope this article has gone some way to show you the value private medical insurance can offer.

If you can see the value in having private health insurance then the next thing to do is to compare policies to get an idea of costs. We’re on hand throughout the process, so if you get stuck we’re ready to help. 

Health insurance usually is worth it, but only when it’s been configured in such a way that the disadvantages are mitigated.


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