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Health Insurance - Buyer's guide

How to buy Health Insurance

Health insurance gives you the peace of mind that if you need medical care you can be seen by a specialist of your choice in privacy and comfort at a time that suits you. But there are a whole host of factors you need to understand before you can compare health insurance policies and choose the best health insurance cover for you.

  • Like any other insurance policy, you pay a monthly or annual premium. In return, the insurer will cover the cost of private medical treatment should you become ill. The type of treatment covered by the plan will vary, depending on the type of health insurance quote you get
  • When you compare health insurance policies, learn about what is commonly covered. Healthcare plans are designed to pick up the tab for just about anything, from your initial consultation and diagnostic tests - commonly called outpatient treatment - through to your treatment and hospital accommodation, known as inpatient, when you’re required to stay overnight. On top of this, and depending on the plan, it might also include physiotherapy, treatment abroad and cash payments if you have treatment on the NHS.
  • But some things won’t be covered. These include accident and emergency, cosmetic treatment, experimental treatment or drugs, long-term or chronic conditions, for example diabetes or asthma, and routine pregnancies. Pre-existing conditions are also commonly excluded, although some policies will offer a moratorium style of underwriting. In these plans, conditions will be covered providing you don’t require treatment for them in the first few years of the policy.
  • To compare health insurance accurately, you need to understand the types of healthcare available. Budget insurance includes inpatient and day patient costs but excludes outpatient benefits; while comprehensive insurance offers full cover for inpatient and outpatient as well as additional benefits such as physiotherapy; and intermediate, which fits between the two. The more comprehensive the policy, the more expensive the premiums.
  • There are also some slightly different plans where, say, 25% of your premium goes into a savings account that can then be used to fund some of your treatment; or plans where you receive a set amount for your procedure, scan or consultation and can pocket any savings you make.
  • The best way to obtain a cheaper health insurance quote is to go for less cover. A plan with little or no outpatient cover will be cheap and could be a great idea if you have the financial means to pay for any outpatient treatment you need. You can also plump for a larger excess to reduce premiums; while some plans are cheaper because they only kick-in if the NHS waiting list is six weeks or longer.
  • Paying annually rather than monthly will cut between five and 10% off your bill and a more restricted hospital list can take another 25% off, depending on where you live.