Despite the fact that the UK government has increased investment in the NHS, private medical insurance (PMI) is increasing in popularity. It's estimated that PMI accounts for £15 billion in health services annually. NHS may provide sufficient cover for a lot of medical needs, but where NHS cover falls down (for example, through limited resources in certain areas), private medical insurance provides a good complement to state medical care.
There are different types of PMI plans, but generally speaking, private insurance covers acute illness or injury, elective surgery, in-patient diagnostic tests, long term disability care, care for the elderly, hospital accommodation and nursing. PMI sometimes covers out-patient diagnostic tests, out-patient consultation and treatment with specialists, and overseas cover. PMI usually does not cover treatment for preexisting conditions, general practice visits, or accident/emergency admission. All private health insurance plans are different though, so it's important to understand the fine print of a policy before committing.
Aside from the people using PMI in addition to NHS care, some people choose to use private health cover to gain access to private facilities that have significantly shorter wait times. Private medical facilities generally operate at 50-60 per cent of their maximum capacity, whereas NHS facilities generally operate at full capacity. In fact, during the winter months when illness is more prevalent, private hospitals are able to take on patients from NHS clinics that are unable to treat them in a reasonable amount of time.
Fixed prices are another reason that many people are choosing PMI. Hospital visits and treatments often have predetermined costs associated with them decided upon by private health cover providers. With fixed prices, people are able to go to an appointment knowing how much they'll have to pay, so there are rarely surprises when the bill is received. Aside from shorter wait lists and fixed prices, people are choosing PMI because they're able to choose which hospital they want to be treated at. With NHS, there are only certain hospitals that people are able to go to, and these hospitals are often crowded and more rundown that PMI facilities.
While PMI is being used by more and more people who want shorter waiting times for medical care, fixed prices for doctor visits and treatment, and their choice of hospital, PMI and NHS are often used together to provide the most complete medical care possible. If you're interested in a PMI policy, fill out our short private medical insurance form, and we will connect you with a private medical insurance broker that will find the best health cover for your needs.