It’s a great question: what is the real difference between treatment paid for by a health insurance policy and treatment that’s free under the NHS? Are there different standards of care for different people? Why take out a health insurance policy at all?
The quality of care provided by our National Health Service can be excellent. We have some of the best doctors and care-providers in the world, working in all areas of the NHS, and it’s free for everyone at the point of treatment.
While care for life-threatening conditions is a priority, the system is struggling to cope as demands on it increase. Waiting times (especially for low-priority, routine procedures) can be lengthy. However, it’s important to remember, even if you take out a health insurance policy, as a British citizen you’ll always be entitled to use the NHS.
Some treatments simply aren’t available on the NHS – things like emerging drugs for blood disorders; alternative therapies; specialist surgeries and physiotherapy for sports-related injuries, or focused, personal rehabilitation sessions. A health insurance policy may offer these benefits as standard (it’s also sometimes called private medical insurance).
Health insurance may also offer additional benefits such as dental care or optical care; 24-hour support in the form stress helplines or rehabilitation care services; and access to bespoke advice on issues such as nutrition and smoking cessation. Plus, while the NHS offers great care, health insurance usually offers treatment in an environment that feels more comfortable – like a hotel, rather than a hospital – with menus of choice, private rooms, and en suite facilities as standard.
Most of all, however, at the moment, a non-emergency (routine) or specialised treatment on the NHS hospital is likely to mean a delay after your first consultation and diagnosis. This may be a few days, a couple of weeks, or several months – depending on your condition and waiting times. Sometimes, even a diagnosis may take longer than you’d like. Health insurance means you’ll get care promptly, at a time and in a place to suit you.
With a health insurance policy in place, you’ll usually be seen within a week or so of your GP making a referral. Tests are usually arranged within a few days, if not sooner, and any procedures are likely to be carried out by the consultants themselves – rather than a more junior member of their team.
Every insurer takes a different approach to the benefits they offer, and the treatment plans provided for in their policies. We’re happy to talk about them in detail, and to help you decide if buying health insurance is the right choice for you in your situation. We only recommend insurers who offer 5-star Defaqto-rated policies.
Contact us today. Our expert Healthcare Consultants will be happy to compare a range of health insurance policies for you – and we’ll only recommend a policy that’s right for your needs. And if you’re looking for general advice? Our Peace of Mind Check is a free advice service that will try to answer all of your questions.
We are looking forward to helping you find the best health insurance policy. One of our healthcare consultants will be in touch soon to discuss your requirements.
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*Based on the average across 465 private medical insurance policies sold between 1st August 2019 and 31st December 2019