Buying the right private medical insurance | SavvyWoman

What to look for when buying private medical insurance

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For some people, private medical insurance is a luxury (and one that they’re happy to do without), for others, it’s a priority. Whatever your views, there’s one thing that most people can agree on and that’s that it isn’t cheap. So how do you save money?

What does private medical insurance cover?

Different policies cover different illnesses, so there’s no hard-and-fast rule about what private medical insurance covers. However, in general terms, private medical insurance may pay for:

  • The cost of treating short-term illnesses (called acute conditions in the jargon) if they start after you take the policy out.
  • Diagnostic inpatient tests.
  • Medicines not yet approved on the NHS for treating certain conditions (for example, expensive cancer drugs etc).
  • Treatment at a private hospital or a private facility in an NHS hospital.

SAVVY TIP: Medical insurance policies in the UK do not cover the cost of a private birth. Although some London teaching hospitals offer private maternity services, few hospitals elsewhere do.

What extras might private medical insurance cover?

There are all kinds of extras that may be included in your private medical insurance. They include:

  • Outpatient tests and treatment
  • Physiotherapy
  • Complementary therapies

Where to buy private medical insurance

There are several different options when it comes to buying private medical insurance. You can buy a policy:

  • Direct from a medical insurance provider or a company that sells its products, such as a bank or supermarket.
  • From a medical insurance broker, either on or offline.

SAVVY TIP: It might seem that buying private medical insurance online is the cheapest and quickest option, but there are so many terms and conditions in private medical insurance policies that I’d recommend that you buy it after you’ve spoken to a medical insurance broker (either on the phone or face-to-face).

Saving money on your premiums

If you like the idea of private medical insurance, but are worried about the cost of premiums, there are ways you can save money:

  • Use the NHS for treatment at an outpatients’ clinics or pay for treatment yourself.
  • Increase the excess on your policy. If you have savings that you can use to help pay towards your treatment, you could increase your excess substantially.
  • Limit the range of hospitals you can be treated at (or stick to less expensive ones).

SAVVY TIP: Some insurers offer policies on a ‘six-week wait’ basis, which means that if the NHS waiting list for a particular procedure is less than six weeks, you use the NHS for treatment. If it is longer, your medical insurance pays. These policies can be 30-35% cheaper than standard private medical insurance.

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