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How does private healthcare insurance work in the UK?

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Getting private health insurance is becoming an increasingly popular option among UK residents, particularly with the level of strain that is on the NHS right now. However, before you decide whether or not getting private health insurance is the right option for you, it’s a good idea to learn more about it, what it is, and how it works in the UK.

How does private healthcare insurance work in the UK

What private health insurance is for

Unlike government-run insurance programs such as National Insurance, which covers the NHS, private healthcare insurance refers to policies that are sold by private businesses. They provide immediate access to high-quality, private treatment, which makes it an increasingly popular choice. The market is more competitive than ever before, meaning that it’s easier than ever to find decent healthcare insurance to fit your budget. If you are sick or injured during the term of the policy, it will cover private medical care, surgery, testing, and other treatments. Policies are often used to treat illnesses that are short-term, acute, and curable. 

Your insurance will pay out if you require care that is covered by the policy. Most people get private health insurance to use in addition to NHS services. For example, you will still be able to get appointments with your NHS GP. However, with private healthcare insurance, you can choose from a wider range of providers such as Circle Health Group. Circle Health Group offers faster treatment, a more personalised experience, and a wider range of treatment options. They offer treatments for various conditions including general surgery and women’s health, and you can spread the cost. 

What does private health insurance cover?

Private healthcare insurance in the UK can cover certain diseases and illnesses and their treatments. Many insurers offer the option for you to tailor your plan by expanding or decreasing your cover as needed. Some of the most common conditions that you can get cover for include:

  • Acute conditions

Acute pain refers to pain that lasts for a brief period, has a known source, and a predicted outcome. It will often be severe and appear suddenly. An acute condition refers to any sickness, disease, or injury that is expected to react quickly to treatment. 

  • Inpatient treatment

Any treatment that involves using a hospital bed will be covered under inpatient care. This will generally occur after undergoing surgery, although you may need inpatient care for some minor treatments that require a short hospital stay. The majority of private healthcare insurance policies in the UK will provide inpatient cover as standard. It usually includes the cost of the surgery, any drugs that are required, fees for medical professionals, the cost of pre-surgery examinations, and the cost of a private recovery room, medical amenities, and catering. 

What is not covered?

While you can find fully comprehensive insurance plans that will cover you for any kind of treatment that you need, most private healthcare policies in the UK are designed to be used as a supplement to NHS care. Because of this, you will usually find that they do not cover things like elective treatment, chronic illnesses, treatment for drug or substance abuse, emergency treatment, treatment abroad, and pregnancy treatment and related healthcare

How much does private health insurance cost?

The cost of private health insurance in the UK can vary based on several different factors. The main factors that will impact how much you are likely to pay for your health insurance cover include your age, location, and whether or not you smoke. The older we are, the more likely we are to need medical treatment, so the cost is usually higher for older people. If you live near more expensive hospitals, such as those in Central London, you will also likely pay more for insurance. Smokers will also usually pay more since smoking means that you are more likely to develop a serious condition such as cancer or heart disease. 

Will the cost of private health insurance change?

How much you pay for your private health insurance policy is likely to change over time. The policy will usually be updated on an annual basis and the rates will be adjusted to reflect your current conditions and those of your insurance company. Some of the most common reasons for an increase in health insurance rates include getting older, recently making a claim on the insurance, being at higher risk, and inflation in the medical industry. 

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How to make a claim

If you require treatment while you have a valid policy, your insurer will cover the cost when you make a claim. You will need to do this when you have a referral from your GP or another healthcare provider. Contact your insurance company to make a claim by providing the necessary information. Your insurance company can recommend a specialist, or you can search for one yourself. Schedule your appointments and receive the treatment. Once your treatment is complete, the bill will be sent to your insurance company. 

Final word

While the NHS is undoubtedly one of the best services we have in the UK, more and more people are subsidising NHS care with private healthcare insurance due to better quality treatment, shorter waiting times, and more choices. 

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