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to ask how private health insurance works in the UK?

(26 Posts)
Fabulassie Wed 07-Jan-15 18:20:21

I'm an immigrant, lived here nine years. I like the NHS quite a lot but I was wondering if it would make sense to look into buying my own private health insurance. I'm in a major city so I assume there are plenty of options for that.

What does one get with private coverage? Does one use exclusively private care or do you do a mix of NHS and private? What sort of costs are we looking at if you have no pre-existing conditions?

I know you probably can't answer all these questions exactly, but I'd be interested in knowing sort of what to expect or look for.

Thank you.

shushpenfold Wed 07-Jan-15 18:25:12

We have private health insurance as a family and essentially you can tailor it to suit, i.e. up the coverage for possible cancer, dental accidents, lots of physio coverage, do you want alternative therapies etc. Definitely do search though as the price differences were astounding (and the most well known one was 3 times more than we eventually paid) We also used a broker and they turned out to be very good as they knew about the issues which we wouldn;t know about but they did....some companies charge you more in the second year if you claim in the first for instance. We went for a high cover which would include dental accidents (3 children playing loads of impact sports) but not basic appointments.

shushpenfold Wed 07-Jan-15 18:27:36

Oh, I think we paid about £1600 for a family of 5 and went with Aviva in the end.

Theas18 Wed 07-Jan-15 18:31:15

You need to look at the policy you are thinking if, there are different degrees of cover. The various websites will have calculators.

Mostly you still use the gp but for routine stuff get referred and within a certain cap of cost it's covered (I have BUPA via work - us a recommended person and they settle bills directly) . There are cheaper cover policies that pay if the nhs won't see you in a certain time frame etc

Some illness may be excluded and some things might be so expensive you would transfer to the nhs - im not sure my budget would get me much cancer treatment for instance, but it would get my cancer diagnosed faster and in nicer surroundings!

Realistically IMHO I have BUPA to deal with inconvenient minor health problems eg recently an ear problem that needed micro suction - Saturday appointment - no problem - not an extra week of pain and half a day off work to access the nhs service - though this would have dealt with me appropriately.

LadyLuck10 Wed 07-Jan-15 18:33:41

We too have private health care and it's brilliant. You can see a doctor Asap without having to feel you're wasting their time. You can see specialists almost immediately too.

Messygirl Wed 07-Jan-15 18:36:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LIZS Wed 07-Jan-15 18:37:10

Dh has had it as a perk of work over the years. I've had a health screening and private physio after ankle sprain plus a minor dental op(maxillofacial), he had wisdom teeth out. However from family and friends experiences nhs is very good in a crisis such as cancer bar a few exceptions so not sure that is specifically worth paying for.

ConferencePear Wed 07-Jan-15 18:50:21

The private hospitals local to where I live do not have intensive care facilities. The care is fine as long as everything goes well.

QOD Wed 07-Jan-15 18:53:03

Just remember that unlike, for example, Amrican Health Insurance, unless you joina ccompany scheme, it's for new conditions that arise after you join. If you've got or had symptoms in a certain time frame (3/5yrs) before joining, they're excluded for a.poeriod of time. Bupa usually make u fill out a questionnaire and exclude pre existing conditions too, and yiu can usually chose that option elsewhere but the moratorium method is much more flexible.
General rule . of thumb, GP onward private, GP and accident or emergency, NHS.

Messygirl Wed 07-Jan-15 18:54:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NormHonal Wed 07-Jan-15 19:01:16

We have private health insurance through work and dip in and out of it when needed. When we have needed operations, for example, or tests at hospitals where the waiting lists would normally be long, you get seen a lot faster.

It's also possible to use it ad hoc rather than buying a policy. You can pay to see a private GP as a one-off if you need to, which might work out cheaper if you are otherwise in good health. And a few years back a relative needed an urgent minor operation and paid £2000 as a one-off to get it sorted privately, which he said was well worth it to be pain-free. But a larger operation might cost more like £15,000-20,000 without insurance, with all of the various bills for anaesthetists and hospital stay, etc.

For emergency care, however, or everyday healthcare from a GP, you would still use the NHS.

TheLovelyBoots Wed 07-Jan-15 19:03:46

We've had Aviva (I think that's the one) for 4 years; it's around 3600 for a family of four each year. In this time we have never used it. The only time we came close was when my son was hospitalized for chicken pox - we thought we could get him into the Cromwell. Alas, they do not accept infectious diseases.

Then, we tried to get him into see a dermatologist afterwards - nope. We had to pay out of pocket.

They force you to rely very, very heavily on the NHS.

Seriouslyffs Wed 07-Jan-15 19:27:53

I'd really not bother- we have it through work and the only time we used it I felt I was accelerated into expensive treatment. It was reassuring and nice not to have to wait and be seen promptly but I was seen by the world leader in the field on the NHS 6 weeks later.

UngratefulMoo Wed 07-Jan-15 19:41:01

As well as cover for different types of ailments you can also (at least with Bupa) get cover just for diagnosis or just for treatment. If you had the latter, for example you woud still need to see an NHS GP and be on NHS waiting lists for tests, but once you had your diagnosis your insurance would kick in and you could get private treatment.

Things to watch out for:
Some insurers only cover for selected medical practitioners - some of their list may not be local to you and if you want to choose someone different you may have to pay extra
Cash limits of cover - some insurers only cover treatment up to a certain value and then your back in the NHS - worst case scenario is that you are getting treatment for cancer and then your policy runs out and you go back into the NHS system.

My experience tells me that it can be worth having diagnosis cover as NHS waiting lists for tests and biopsies etc can take an age but on acute treatment the NHS tends to be pretty strong.

Private health cover can be amazing just READ THE SMALL PRINT!!!

Westendgal Wed 07-Jan-15 19:43:09

There will most likely be an excess payment due every time you use a private policy (sometimes called a deductable payment in the US). Policies vary, but for us it's £100 per person per policy year.

Baddz Wed 07-Jan-15 19:44:17

No point for children...most private hospitals do not treat under 18s.
Trouble with private medical insurance is that it's like a hospital gown....you think you are covered, but you aren't smile

Baddz Wed 07-Jan-15 19:46:03

Oh, and the private aftercare is dismal.

Messygirl Wed 07-Jan-15 19:56:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

YoungGirlGrowingOld Wed 07-Jan-15 20:04:41

Got cancer diagnosed privately after repeated let downs by NHS GP. Covered for cancer drugs not available on NHS and still here 8 years later. IME the aftercare (all covered by BUPA) was bloody good as well. No concerns about surgery because my local BMI has an ICU.

What made the difference for me was seeing a named consultant at every appointment and having privacy and an en suite. Tbh I would pay for that alone. In the local NHS hospital I did not even get a bed for chemo, just a hard chair.

I would not be without it now. Costs me 120 quid a month. (DH not covered).

QOD Wed 07-Jan-15 22:20:44

The lovely boots .... Jeez you are over.paying .
are you over 50? If so, Google. Medical insurance for over 50 ' s, get a quote online and we'll ring you and offer an extra.discount.
pm me if you want
unless.yourre tied in with lots of pre existing condition you're overpaying

I have it through my employer, only used it so far for a double wisdom tooth extraction under general but that was sooooo good after experiencing the NHS equivalent!

Fabulassie Wed 07-Jan-15 23:17:48

Thank you, everyone, for your input. It's been very helpful.

I don't know if I can afford to cover all five of us, but I am the sole breadwinner and self-employed, so I sometimes worry about what I'd do if I had some dreary issue dragging out with referrals and waits on the NHS. I may look into it but I'm not sure I'll do it.

missingmumxox Thu 08-Jan-15 00:20:49

don't know what you do but I was a member of Benenden until a month ago, never used there services but they are supper cheap as they are a proper charity, they don't cover everything, but they will cover gaps in the system, I work in Occupational Health and my clients who used them thought they where brilliant including a physio who worked for me.
I have cancelled because my husband new employer gives Private and the tax difference to price make no odds so moved over.

as someone who lived in the USA the only reason Private health insurance is cheap in the UK is because the NHS deals with their mistakes, infections and as an EX ICU nurse don't get me started on my NHS wages being used to nurse private patients.

always go for a private wing in an NHS hospital or a private hospital near one...they tend to be very close see above.

Theas18 Thu 08-Jan-15 07:45:24

Of course the other alternative, which I've thought of at times is to decide how much it would cost you per year then save that up ina ring fenced pot and use it when needed.

At the moment, with the things I've used BUPA this strategy would have been very much in my favour- average a couple of out patients a year max and some physio every 3-4yrs. I would have had my minor gynae procedure on the NHS in that case - but again as I'd already seen the consultant and had the tests I knew it was not urgent and NHS would have been OK.

After current experience with friends I would urge everyone to save £250-300 in an emergency pot if they can so they are able to see a consultant next week if they feel they need, young people with possible malignancies that don't have really strong indicators seem to fall into a special NHS sink hole. A private referral is the only reason one is still alive sad

YoungGirlGrowingOld Thu 08-Jan-15 08:03:22

Theas18 - could not agree more. I was also a young person with a malignancy that could not get investigated on the NHS. It's the main reason why I would never be without insurance now. I had a massive tumour and the NHS GP diagnosed hypochondria without doing any investigations hmm

I also self fund for some of the follow up required for my genetic problems as these are not covered. That costs about 1000 a year so I save for it monthly.

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