If you would like additional healthcare options to those offered by the National Health Service, you do not have to pay a fortune. Here are some ways in which you can increase your healthcare options without having to significantly increase your budget.
Consider a cash plan
If you wear glasses or contacts, you visit the dentist on a regular basis or you require ongoing physiotherapy, you may find that you'd get more benefit from a health cash plan than from a standard private medical insurance policy. A health cash plan is a type of insurance that enables you to claim back the costs of everyday health requirements, such as optical and dental care, physiotherapy, osteopathy, acupuncture and other treatments.
Most cash plans allow you to claim back all of the money you spend up to a certain annual limit, and premium costs are usually much lower than those on a private medical insurance policy because the treatments you're claiming for are likely to be lower-cost. You cannot claim for treatment you have already received, but can usually start claiming from the moment you start your policy. Children's dental and optical cover can also typically be included up to a certain limit.
Get a quote on a health cash plan.
Ditch the cigarettes
This is not going to come as a massive shock, but if you are a smoker you're statistically more likely to have health problems. This means that if you do want private medical insurance (PMI), you're likely to be in a higher-risk category and as such your insurance premiums will be more expensive.
Quitting smoking will not instantly cut your policy costs, but once you have been smoke-free for a year, inform your insurer and get them to provide you with a new quote that takes your healthier lifestyle into consideration. Some health insurers (such as PruHealth) are also starting to actively incentivise people who lead healthy lifestyles, whilst others (including Standard Life Healthcare will offer no-claims discounts if you have not made a claim in the last two years).
Be flexible on when and where you are treated
Many insurers will offer you reductions on your private medical insurance policy if you opt for a 'wait plan' or 'wait option', where you agree to only go private if the National Health Service (NHS) cannot treat you quickly. The waiting time specified in the policy can be anything from 6 weeks to 90 days, so choose the option that you feel comfortable with. Please note that the waiting time refers to the length of time after your specialist confirms that you need the treatment before you can be seen, not the length of time after you start experiencing the problem.
If you are willing to narrow down the range of hospitals you can go to for private treatment, you will also get a reduction on your PMI premiums. Private hospitals are graded in the UK as A, B or C, with A-grade hospitals being the best and therefore the most expensive. Consider whether you are prepared to travel a greater distance to visit a suitable private hospital, or whether you would be willing to exclude some of the most expensive hospitals from your policy. This really is a choice best left to the individual, and if having the full range of access to private hospitals is important to you then it would not be worth trying to save money in this area.
Be a bargain-hunter (but don't compromise on cover)
Gone are the days when private medical insurance was seen as a luxury product, and there are now many insurers offering affordable cover for individuals, families and companies. Therefore it's highly advisable to shop around in order to find the right policy at the right price - and don't be afraid to bargain! If you're coming to the end of your policy term, never simply renew without question. Instead, look around to see if you can beat your existing policy price elsewhere, making sure that the level of cover you're getting is the same or higher. Click on the link to request a callback from an independent healthcare adviser.
Share the risk with your insurer
There are a number of ways in which you can do this. The first is to agree to a voluntary excess on your PMI health policy, meaning that you agree to pay a fixed amount towards the costs of treatment and the insurer pays the rest. Usually, as you would expect, the higher your voluntary excess, the lower the cost of your policy, because you are taking additional costs away from the insurer.
The second way of distributing the risk is to take out a 'shared responsibility' PMI health policy. Rather than paying a fixed amount towards any treatment, you agree with the insurer to pay a percentage of the cost of the treatment, for example 20%, with the insurer then paying the remaining 80%. The thinking behind this approach is that if you have to bear some of the financial risk for your treatments you'll make extra effort to make cost-effective choices.
Get a PMI quote today and see how much you could be saving.