With the 60th anniversary of the NHS this weekend, figures show people looking for instant medical care can obtain Private Medical Insurance (PMI) for just under £200 per year.
Government figures show hospital maximum waiting times on the in-patient list is down from 18 months to six months. Despite this, there may be some people who want immediate medical attention for an injury or illness and PMI could be a solution.
While some people are aware of the benefits of PMI others may be reluctant to purchase it due to cost. However, although the more comprehensive plans can be costly at between £450 and £700 a year, basic cover can be obtained for just £186 a year or £15.50 a month.
Emma Walker, at moneysupermarket.com, says: "The NHS plays a vital role for patient care in Britain. While waiting times have fallen, some people may still opt for PMI that is designed to cover the costs for a range of treatment for acute conditions such as disease, illness or injury, and offers reassurance treatment will be available promptly. Levels of cover and price vary widely so it is important to be sure of the level of benefits you would like and then shop around for the best price. Cover with some of the big name brands can be costly compared to smaller brands, so it is important that people seek advice and understand the product they are purchasing. Comprehensive or premium plans are also likely to include extra benefits such as out patient benefits; alternative therapies like acupuncture and aromatherapy, 24 hour GP advice and cover outside the UK, offering that extra peace of mind."
It is also important to remember PMI may not cover for pre-existing medical conditions and people should make sure they highlight all previous treatment. Failure to do so could lead to claims being rejected at a later date, potentially costing you more in the long run.
PMI is not suitable insurance for chronic conditions such as cancer where critical illness cover could be more appropriate.
moneysupermarket.com has the following tips when looking for PMI:
- Don't always be lured by the lowest premium; look at policy coverage and extras within the cover to make sure you are getting the best value for money
- Make sure your answers are correct and give all of your relevant personal information and medical history, or a subsequent claim might be rejected
- Always review cover at life-changing events such as a change of job, having children, a change in marital status
- Read the small print to help you decide what cover you want. Do you want outpatient care? Do you want to be able to choice the hospital where you receive your treatment?
- When replacing a policy, always seek advice and compare like for like, as the premium may be cheaper but the coverage might not be as comprehensive. Never cancel anything until the new cover is in place.
Private medical insurance: News update: July 2008