Private Health Insurance

Private medical insurance is designed to cover treatment for curable, short-term illness or injury. Many people buy this type of insurance to gain the reassurance of knowing that treatment is available promptly, if they become ill or are injured. However, the insurance is not designed to replace all services offered by the NHS – some illnesses and treatments will not be covered. This usually includes pre-existing medical conditions, GP services, cover for a long-term illness that cannot be cured and accident and emergency admission. It also includes treatment for self-inflicted injuries, HIV/AIDS, infertility, normal pregnancy, cosmetic surgery, sex change, and injuries arising from dangerous hobbies. There is a large variety of schemes available – from cheap schemes offering limited cover, to expensive ones that offer wide-ranging cover and benefits. Whilst most policies will offer cover as an in-patient (when you stay in overnight) and a day-patient (when you are in for the day only), some will not offer cover for out-patients. Out-patient treatment usually includes consultation with specialist, diagnostic tests, radiotherapy / chemotherapy, physiotherapy and psychiatry. Some will not offer overseas cover either. Think carefully about what you want from your policy before signing up.

How will I be assessed?

There are two methods that insurance companies use to accept your application – “medical history declaration” or “moratorium”. Medical history declaration (otherwise known as full medical underwriting) is when you are asked to provide full details of your medical history. If necessary, the insurer may write to your doctor for more information. Be sure to give all the information you are asked for - if you do not, you may not be eligible for a future payout. Moratorium is when you are asked to just fill in a form, and not give details of your medical history. The insurer does not cover any medical condition which existed in the last (usually) five years.