What is Private Medical Insurance?
Private Medical Insurance (PMI) is an insurance that covers the cost of treatment for a specified range of medical conditions, usually in private hospitals or private wards.
Such policies commonly cover what are known as acute conditions – that is an illness or disease that’s likely to respond to treatment and lead to a full recovery.
However, with over twenty policy providers in the market, all offering a range of policies, prices for PMI cover can vary widely. In this article, we’ll take a look at a few of the ways that you can reduce the cost of your cover, while still enjoying the many benefits of PMI.
This article on private medical health insurance UK is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
Choosing your level of cover
The simplest way to reduce the cost of your private medical insurance is to reduce the conditions and procedures that your policy covers. For example:
- Some policies will allow you to select only heart and cancer cover, if these are the conditions that worry you most
- You can reduce your cover to only include in-patient treatment and day-case, and either pay for your outpatient treatment or have this under the NHS
- You can take out a policy that gives you the option of NHS treatment if this is available quickly, or private treatment if it is not
Naturally, the more your policy covers, the more your premium will be.
Choosing policy options
Apart from the actual conditions covered, you can reduce the cost of your private medical health insurance cover in other ways. For example:
- Agree to pay an excess - a set amount of each claim
- Reduce the number of hospitals available to you
- Reduce the flexibility available to you, such as the timing and location of treatment
- Exclude treatment overseas
Your insurer will provide a Key Facts document and full terms and conditions. Take the time to read these through carefully to make sure you know exactly what your policy covers. You will generally have a short ‘cooling-off period’ in which you can change your mind if the policy is not right for you.
In such a competitive market, there are always incentives to tempt you to buy private medical insurance, and these can help you save even more on your policy. You should look out for:
- No claims discounts, which rewards you for keeping yourself healthy
- Introductory discounts available on the first year of your policy (though you should be aware of any long-term commitment in the small print)
- Discounts for direct debit payments
- Discounts for annual payments or 0% interest on monthly or quarterly payment plans (monthly payments may cost you more if interest is added)
- Joint or family policies that offer savings for multiple people on the same policy
- Employee schemes provided through your work or through any trade associations you are a member of
The internet allows everyone to shop around for a better private medical insurance deal. You can visit the websites for each insurer, or use price comparison websites. Make sure you’re comparing like for like however, or you may not get the bargain you were expecting.
If you’re not confident about shopping around yourself, you can use an insurance broker to find you the best deal. They may have access to deals that you don’t, but they may also charge a fee for their services.
If you are most concerned about major illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, you could consider Critical Illness cover as an alternative to PMI. These policies pay out a lump sum on diagnosis of a specified range of conditions. You can use this money to pay for treatment, to make your life more comfortable, or to take away the stress of financial commitments while you’re ill.
The cost of Private Medical Cover will vary from person to person and from company to company. By applying the brief guidelines above, you can get the best value policy for your own unique circumstances, making private medical health insurance cover more cost-effective and more accessible than you might think, bringing you all the benefits you need at the minimum cost.