When it comes to your health, a one size fits all policy just won’t do it. More and more people are looking to tailor their health insurance policies to suit them, and their individual needs. So what should you include in your policy?
Over 3.26 million people in Britain opt for private medical insurance to avoid long waits for NHS treatment or get cutting edge drugs without delay. But instead of buying a generic policy, many are opting for so-called ‘pick and mix’ plans which allow them to tailor their cover to suit their lifestyle, priorities and budget.
What won’t be covered
Most health insurers aren’t willing to cover you for a pre-existing condition, and routine pregnancy treatment or cosmetic procedures aren’t likely to be covered either. It’s always best to be crystal clear about what your policy does â€“and doesn’t - cover.
When choosing your cover, read the fine print. Some critical illness polices cover most cancers but not certain types of breast, prostate and skin cancers, for instance.
One in 30 people living in the UK either has cancer or is in remission. With most cancers, catching the illness early before it spreads to your lymph nodes is your best bet for beating it.
There have been criticisms that the Prime Minister’s shake-up of the NHS has left frustrated doctors wading through red tape to get vital cancer drugs that patients urgently need. That, along with other stories such as the recent controversy over a man’s painful wait for cancer drugs before dying, is encouraging many people to look into giving themselves a healthcare safety net.
When you look at the care available you can see why the idea makes sense - there can be something of a postcode lottery when it comes to waiting times and care can be an expensive business. Cancer patients in Suffolk are paying an average of Â£570 a month for this treatment on top of losing an average of Â£870 a month in earnings, making them reliant on cancer charities like Macmillan if they don’t have insurance.
For example, the health insurance company Bupa, who has just launched a new type of cover called Bupa By You which allows people to choose what they’re covered for, says that making insurance affordable is about giving people more flexibility, not cutting corners. They allow you to save money on insurance for cancer treatment by offering you the chance to go private only when the NHS can’t treat you or find the right drug. Makes sense. They say: Our customers tell us that cancer cover is very important to them, but they also want more options that can help bring down the cost of cover.
Managing your budget
Unfortunately, one of the biggest factors determining the kind of cover people go for is budget. But there are ways to keep the costs low if you prioritise what your cover gets you. If you feel that being seen to immediately without delay is important but are willing to cap how much you care you receive as an outpatient after receiving treatment, this can help keep premiums lower. The NHS has to treat you after you’ve been referred to by a consultant within 18 weeks, but it may be too late for some by then.
But if you’re somebody who likes to have the peace of mind knowing that you’ll be taken care of throughout the process as you may not be able to return to work for some time, you might want to have health insurance which doesn’t place a cap on outpatient services.
Britain’s biggest killer
Coronary heart disease continues to be Britain’s biggest killer, accounting for almost 74,000 death a year, or 200 a day.
If you’ve got any of the risk factors (smoking, having high blood pressure from a stressful job or bad diet or being overweight) you may want to invest in private cover. Many insurance companies are reluctant to cover people with an existing heart condition, or charge them a very high premium.
Questions to as when choosing health insurance
- How much would you be able to pay each month?
- How much of an excess would you be able to pay?
- Would you be happy to be treated by the NHS if this were possible?
- What are you already entitled to through a work scheme?
- How important is it that you get a big choice of hospitals?
- Do you want aftercare to be included in your policy?
- How would your income be affected by an illness, and should you get a policy that pays out an income to keep you going?
- Have you got a family history of a particular illness, or have you been diagnosed with a chronic disease like asthma or diabetes?
What are your priorities when it comes to your health insurance? Let us know in comments!