What's better? Private or NHS healthcare?
- Health Insurance
- Private medical insurance (PMI)
- Private medical insurance guide
- How to reduce the cost
How to reduce the cost of health insurance
The huge variety of types of cover, and what is on offer within each individual product, can be very confusing. The golden rule when searching for low cost health insurance is to take your time. Get several quotes. Investigate the alternatives.
You could take a package which covers virtually everything and that may be the best option for you. But full packages are no longer cheap. There are many ways of tailoring cover to arrive at the most affordable health insurance to suit your own needs.
Don't buy cover you don't need
Sounds obvious, but many policies will cover areas that may not be relevant. Full family cover including children and pregnancy costs may not be of use to a single man.
Choose the cover you need
Investigate what packages are on offer. Also, look at products where you can choose which sections you want to include. Packages can be good value, while choice of cover products will vary greatly between insurer and depend on what you choose. Don't assume that one type is always cheaper than the other.
Buy limited cover
There are several policies where you only cover major illnesses, which may be of interest to those looking for low cost health insurance. Limited cover plans tend to be cheaper - but remember that most medical treatment is on minor ailments and injuries.
Share the risk
There are various ways where the premium can be substantially reduced by selecting a shared risk policy. You could have a high excess, the amount you have to pay on any claim, of at least £1000. You could share the costs, with insurers paying between 30 and 75% of the costs and you covering the rest.
Choose a higher excess
You may not want a shared risk policy, as £1000 is too much for you to self cover. On a package or choice of cover policy, you can often reduce the premium by increasing the excess. Typically this is anything from £100 to £1000.
Choose a waiting period
As the purpose of buying Private Medical Insurance is often to avoid lengthy NHS queues, this may seem a strange suggestion. But there is a difference between having no control over when or where you are treated, and being able to reduce the price by agreeing a Waiting Period. On a 6 week Waiting Period, if the NHS can provide treatment locally within 6 weeks, you would use them. But if they cannot, then the policy will arrange treatment without a waiting time.
No claims discounts
These are common on motor policies and are starting to appear more on Private Medical Insurance, which can be helpful for those looking to control their costs and find low cost health insurance. There is a small discount, typically 10% a year, working up to 50% for eight years, if you do not make any claim on the policy. Some companies are more generous. A new innovation is a low claims discount, where you still benefit from a reduced premium, as long as claims are small, minor ones below a certain figure.
Some insurers let you have complete freedom of which hospitals you can use. A growing number even allow you to buy treatment overseas.
Many insurers reduce their costs by restricting treatement to selected hospitals - typically ones they have negotiated price discounts with. You tend to pay more.
Some insurers now offer the option of any hospital or a reduced price for restricting the hospitals you can use. London hospitals tend to be the most expensive, so some insurers charge extra if you select London Hospitals, or reduce the price if you agree not to be treated at any London hospital. Make sure you investigate all the options thoroughly if you're looking for low cost health insurance.
Some insurers give discounts of up to 10% for buying direct online.
Some insurers offer a discount if you pay annually rather than monthly.
Pay by debit card or cheque
Paying by credit card is expensive. The interest paid can be expensive. Some companies charge a small fee for paying by credit card.
Some insurers offer incentives to keep healthy while others charge higher prices to smokers and the obese.