Advice & Guide
What Is Health Insurance?
Advice for ‘what is health insurance?’ and guidance on what happens after you have a policy put in place
Many people wonder ‘what is health insurance?’, which is sometimes known as private medical insurance. This is an insurance policy you take out to treat acute medical conditions that happen after the policy is in place. Private medical, or health insurance, is designed to be used alongside access to healthcare provided by the NHS. So, why buy private medical insurance?
• You will have quick access to more specialist healthcare
• Treatment at a location and time convenient to you
• Care provided directly by private consultants
• Advanced treatment with drugs possibly not available on the NHS
• Private high-quality hospitals and clinics
• Treatment in a more comfortable setting than the NHS
Taking out a health insurance policy is similar to taking out any other type of insurance. Health insurance comes in a range of cover options and premiums to meet the unique and varied needs of anyone requiring this type of policy. Before taking out a health insurance policy, it is essential to know that treatment for illnesses, such as pre-existing conditions that occurred before taking out your policy, will not be covered by your private medical insurance.
When reviewing different types of policies and insurers to choose from, you should carefully consider all of the cover options available to you to make an informed choice. Each insurer tends to provide different Benefits, which you can review to choose one that meets your requirements, think about which Benefits will help your health the most. You should ensure that you compare the limits of the cover and monetary amounts whilst keeping in mind your own health needs.
How does health insurance work?
You have a range of choices in adapting a health insurance policy suitable for you. The choices you make for your insurance could include different treatment, what level of cover you choose for any treatment, how you obtain medical care and where it would be provided. A further consideration in adapting your policy to meet your needs is what level you select to contribute towards your treatment cost, known as your policy ‘excess’.
Even if you have a health insurance policy in place, you will still start your treatment by visiting your GP, who will refer you to a specialist. Before you then go on and arrange any private treatment, it is essential to check with your insurance company that your policy covers you for the type of treatment you require. Also, you can discuss your options for accessing the required care with your insurer at this stage. It would be best to keep in touch with your insurance company throughout your treatment so that your insurer can confirm that your policy covers you at each step of your healthcare process. It is often possible to reduce costs by allowing the insurer to recommend which consultant to use, as opposed to your own GP, based on clinical excellence and proximity to home or place of work. This is known as a Guided Option.
Health insurance is mainly designed to be in place for acute medical conditions. Acute conditions are injuries, illnesses, or diseases likely to respond well to prompt treatment. With an acute injury, you can generally expect to return to the state of health that you were in before suffering from this condition with a full recovery. An insurer will explain their cover options for this to you. An insurer should also clarify if they cover long-term conditions, more frequently known as ‘chronic conditions’. These are injuries, illnesses, or diseases requiring possible rehabilitation, prolonged monitoring to help symptoms, could continue indefinitely with no known cure or are likely to come back. Some health insurance policies cover chronic conditions, but this is not routine for private medical insurance.
Do you already have health insurance without knowing it?
Sometimes an employer will purchase health insurance on your behalf. In this case, the employer will have already made the decisions about the policy for you. When health insurance is arranged through your employment, your employer will have all of the information about your insurance cover. You should ask your employer if they have health insurance in place for you already that you were not previously aware of.
If your employer does not put a private medical insurance policy in place for you, then you will need to take out a policy yourself. When doing this, it is essential to understand what is covered and make sure that you know its limits should the need to make a claim arise. It is always advisable to read the terms and conditions of the health insurance policy.
Benefits of engaging an insurance broker
Any insurer of your choice will be happy to talk through the cover options available to you from the range of policies they offer. It can provide in-depth information about the products of a particular company. Unfortunately, this will be of little help in comparing the different insurers on the market. As a potential customer, you may be overwhelmed by each insurer trying to sell their product to you, and the whole process can soon become daunting and confusing.
However, shopping for health insurance doesn’t have to be so challenging – to understand the offers and insurers available better, you can contact a health insurance broker, such as Anderson Health. Health insurance brokers can give free impartial advice to get you the right kind of insurance you need regarding the level of cover that meets your budget. Brokers’ advice and knowledge are not available on price comparison websites.
A health insurance broker can help to advise you on the different aspects and considerations of the policy, particularly relevant to your personal needs and circumstances. Some common questions that a broker can help you with are below:
• How much cover should you have in place towards the cost of any treatments?
• What are the monetary limits on the policy?
• How much would you need to pay towards the cost of treatments
• How will your excess work? Is it per year or per claim?
• What are the cover options for cancer treatment?
• Does the policy have a no claims discount applicable?
• What happens to future premiums when a claim is placed?
• Are there any limits for certain types of drugs or treatments?
• Are private medical drug treatments available on the NHS?
If you use Anderson Health as your health insurance broker, it comes at no cost to you, as the insurer pays the broker for the service, which does not impact your monthly premium. A broker will advise you and arrange your cover. Following the policy becoming active, you would deal directly with the insurer for any claims. One of the benefits of using an insurance broker is that their experience of the market, product knowledge, and volume business with a strong relationship with insurers can mean that they negotiate significant savings for you when setting up your policy.
At Anderson Health, we give clients an added benefit of a free claims resolution service, where we help our clients with disputed or unpaid claims, should they arise. You will always be able to speak to the partner who handles your account within our brokerage, and we are on hand to answer any questions you may have.
Who is Anderson Health?
Anderson Health is a health insurance brokerage started in 1996 by Tim Cowan and Charles Pemberton, based in the heart of the city London at 63 St Mary Axe. Both Tim and Charles previously worked for leading healthcare organisations and have many years of expertise in the health and private medical insurance sectors. Our team advises individuals and families, ex-pats, SME’s, large corporates and foreign governments on the health insurance market, providing clear, concise and in-depth knowledge.
We hope that you have found our advice and guidance on ‘what is health insurance’ useful.