Private Medical Insurance: Is it worth it?
A health insurance plan for the business is a private medical cover for you and your employees. If you or an employee gets ill or injured, it can help you access healthcare professionals and treatment quickly. It can also give added benefits such as access to nurse helplines, stress support, and online health checks. PMI for business is also classed as a business expense, so can be offset against corporation tax.
What is Private Medical Insurance?
Private Medical Insurance (PMI) is designed to cover the cost of private medical treatment for ‘acute conditions’ that start after your policy begins. PMI is available at a range of different levels of coverage at various premiums designed to meet the needs of different customers. For example, you can have choices around the types of treatment covered, what level of coverage will apply to those treatments, the location where your treatment is provided and the contribution you might be willing to make to the treatment cost (called ‘the excess’).
Cover usually includes:
- The cost of hospital admission
- Diagnostic tests, such as MRI and CT scans
- The costs of seeing a consultant
- Hospital accommodation and nursing care
- Cancer drugs – some policies will include drugs that are not available on the NHS
Cover may also include:
- Outpatient consultations
- Mental health treatment options
- Complimentary therapies
- Physiotherapy and chiropody
Why Private Medical Insurance?
PMI has always been considered an elitist and expensive product by those unfamiliar with the policies. However, record numbers of people are now choosing to either self-fund or pay for healthcare through insurance, amid growing frustration over NHS waiting lists.
Driving this growth is the fact many people consider paying for treatment to be more cost-effective than waiting for the procedure to be done on the NHS, particularly if their illness or injury means they are unable to work and receive an income.
The increase in the number of people opting to take out PMI cover is being driven by concerns over growing pressure on the NHS as well as its future viability, with these individuals opting to spread the cost of care over the long term by taking out a PMI policy.
Why buy Private Medical Insurance?
PMI can complement the services of the NHS by providing cover for the cost of prompt access to private treatment, and access to cancer drugs and services not always available on the NHS.
Timely access to healthcare:
- Prompt access to healthcare
- Quick admission to a private hospital
- Treatment at a time to suits you
Choice of healthcare:
- Direct care by a consultant
- Advanced treatment options, such as access to some cancer drugs that are not available on the NHS
High-quality private clinic and hospital accommodation:
- Privacy of an en-suite room
- Home amenities, such as TV
- Comfort and cleanliness
Private medical treatment is designed for ‘acute conditions’ which start after your policy begins. An acute condition is a disease, illness or injury that is likely to respond quickly to the treatment that aims to return you to the state of health you were in immediately before suffering the disease, illness, or injury, or which leads to your full recovery.
Your insurer will typically not cover ‘chronic conditions’. These are diseases, illnesses or injuries that have one or more of the following characteristics: need long-term monitoring, control, or relief of symptoms, require rehabilitation, continue indefinitely, and have no known cure or are likely to come back.
You will normally not be covered for any illnesses you are currently suffering from or have already had. However, you may be able to get cover for some pre-existing medical conditions by paying a supplementary premium, or if you meet certain criteria.
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In conclusion, Private Medical Insurance (PMI) offers a viable and increasingly popular alternative or supplement to NHS services, especially with the growing pressure on public healthcare. It provides prompt access to healthcare, choice in treatment options, and high-quality private clinic and hospital accommodations. However, it is crucial to understand what PMI covers and its limitations, particularly concerning chronic conditions and pre-existing illnesses.
This article does not constitute individual advice and you should seek professional advice for your specific needs. PMI cover can vary depending on the individual.