Friday, 25 November 2016

Do I need Private Medical Insurance ?

Lets move aside from the issue of personal or company medical insurance and just consider for a moment some the reasons why people might need this kind of insurance cover.

1) Ability to plan medical treatment - you never know when you're going to fall ill or need treatment and access to the NHS can involve visits to out-patient clinics or diagnostic centres that are inconvenient and don't fit in with out busy work and home-lives. On a personal level I bought private medical insurance (PMI) because as a self employed person I simply cannot take time off work unable to see a consultant it just doesn't fit into my schedule ! I run a busy advisory business, train twice a week at karate and have two children both of whom need regular ferrying about. PMI is a vital safety net to support my busy life style.

2) Quick access to diagnostics and treatment - whether we like it or not the NHS cannot cope fully with the demands put upon it. With that in mind there are always going to be delays and waiting lists. As outlined above, for most people this just isn't good enough. With PMI the client takes control and has immediate access to the consultant and hospital of their choice - no waits for getting in to have out-patient diagnostics done and no sitting on a waiting list for minor but uncomfortable problems. It's worth bearing in mind that PMI works very well for the non-life threatening problems that tend to have long NHS waiting lists.

3) Clean, modern and 'hotel like' surroundings - when you're poorly the last thing you fancy doing is waiting in a crowded waiting room or going into hospital for an op worried about a hospital acquired infection - most private hospitals have state of the art facilities with relatively low occupancy rates and a much larger cleaning budget than the local NHS hospital.

4) Chance for a second opinion - whether you've seen your GP and been referred to a consultant on the NHS or whether you've already gone private if you don't feel that you are getting anywhere with a condition you can go for a second opinion. This is one of the less well know aspects of PMI but subject to getting approval from the claims handler at your medical insurer it is usually possible to get a second opinion if you want one. I've had experience of this myself with a claim my wife had around a year ago. It was a relatively minor issue but having seen a consultant privately and had some tests we weren't happy with the initial diagnosis - I spoke to the insurer (Vitality Health as it happens although this would work with most PMI insurers) and explained our misgivings and they referred us to another more senior consultant in the same speciality. We weren't seeking to complain about the first doctor but rather needed extra re-assurance. As it happened the second diagnosis came back very similar to the first but the second gentleman we saw was able to give us more guidance as to what to expect in the future and how to deal - no more treatment was required and we went away feeling more informed.

5) Costs less than most people assume - I've recently worked with a client and put together a case study on the blog (click here to read the piece) but it's safe to say that one of the reasons people object to buying PMI cover is the cost - it often costs less than you think, even if you're not necessarily in the first flush of youth ! I never charge my clients for providing a pricing overview - ask me if you want to see some provisional costs.

6) Very flexible cover now available - when I first came into the medical insurance industry in 1994 there were lots of insurers (many of whom have now disappeared from the market) but you basically had three options - bronze cover (basic low cost plan) silver (the standard mid-range cover) or gold (all singing all dancing). Different insurers gave these plans different names but it was a very standard 'commoditised' market.

It's really all changed now. Largely for the better.

Most insurers now have an extensive 'tick box' list of benefits, plan options, excesses, added value propositions and so on. I once tried to count how many options there are on one insurers product and literally lost count. Suffice to say product design for clients has become a complex but integral part of my daily work life when advising but the important point is that it is now much easier to create a plan for my clients that meets their needs both for health cover but also their budget.

This list above obviously isn't exhaustive (there are other financial and business reasons people might purchase the cover) but hopefully these will pique your interest as to whether a new PMI plan might work for you. So if you want to find out more about medical insurance then just drop me a line at :

I've been a specialist medical insurance intermediary since 2010 (and in the Health Insurance industry since 1994) and look after literally hundreds of personal and company paid clients - like you they need the right cover at the right price, presented to them in a knowledgeable and transparent way.

Phil Knight
November 2016

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