What is health insurance?


Health insurance explained

Health insurance is a type of policy that is also known as private medical insurance. It designed with the purpose of helping you in the future if you seek medical treatment. It means that you can receive private healthcare treatment without having to worry about long NHS waiting lists, which can be the case depending on the condition you have or treatment you require. This type of cover can also entitle you to treatment that is not currently available on the NHS, but this will be dependent on the type of policy you take out and should be verified first by your insurance providers.


Why should I take out health insurance?

Taking out a health insurance policy means you can avoid often long NHS waiting lists.

Many people are confused about whether or not they should take out health insurance coverage, or confuse it entirely with life insurance instead (don’t be mistaken!).  Well, it depends on your circumstances, but there are definite advantages to taking out this kind of policy cover. These benefits include the following:

  • The ability to get diagnosed in a speedy manner, when you may have to otherwise rely on long NHS waiting list times
  • The chance to get treated quickly, receiving a prompt referral to a hospital or consultant should you need further treatment
  • Care at a private hospital from an agreed-upon list provided by your health insurance provider
  • The possibility of having a more comfortable stay in a private hospital with extra features that you wouldn’t otherwise receive normally. This includes having a private ensuite room, and choice of food
  • Being able to choose convenient times for your appointments and treatments


Are there different types of health insurance available?

In short yes. If you are considering taking out private medical insurance then you have the choice between two types of cover: moratorium underwriting and full medical underwriting.

What are the differences between these kinds of health insurance covers?

Moratorium underwriting: this kind of insurance policy requires you only to provide your insurer with a limited amount of personal information. Typically, with this cover, you will not be covered for an initial period of time (this time frame will be dependent on the insurer in question) for any conditions that you may have had in recent years. This could be for a medication you have taken for a condition, or received treatment for.

Full medical underwriting: with this other type of policy agreement, you will need to provide your chosen insurance provider with all the details of your medical history, which will be assessed during the application process. In the majority of cases you will find that you receive wider medical coverage, but at a price: it will probably be more expensive too.

In this scenario, you could end up with your insurer asking to write to your doctor to obtain further information about your medical history if need be, but this will be done only with your consent. If you are applying for this kind of insurance and are over 75, then you will find you will only be provided with this policy and not a moratorium underwriting.

Can you get specialist health insurance policies?

Yes, it is possible with a number of health insurance providers to get a specialist policy to best suit your circumstances. This includes cover for particular diseases, or for those over the age of 55. You can also get certain policies that cover you if are made to wait longer than six weeks for NHS treatment.

What things does health insurance cover?

If you take out a health insurance policy, it will usually include cover for the treatment you receive as:

  • An inpatient: this means if you need to stay in a hospital to get surgery or to undergo tests
  • An outpatient: if you require treatment, consultations or diagnoses that do not necessarily require you to stay in a hospital overnight to have it
  • A day patient: you need regular appointments but do not need to stay overnight.

What isn’t covered by a health insurance policy?

Generally speaking, you will find that you will not be covered by a health insurance policy under these set of circumstances:

  • For elective treatment, you have chosen to have, such as fertility or cosmetic surgery treatment
  • For a chronic illness you have or an incurable condition.
  • Emergency treatment
  • Treatment for drug abuse
  • Medical treatment you have abroad as this would usually be covered by your travel insurance instead
  • Care and treatment received during pregnancy, but depending on the insurance provider, you could be covered for potential health complications

How much will a health insurance policy cost?

The premium you pay will be dependent on a number of factors.

The exact amount you will pay for a health insurance policy will be dependent on a number of different variables. These include the following:

  • Your age: the younger you are when you take out the policy, the cheaper it is
  • Your medical history: for example, if you have diabetes or high blood pressure it will be a higher cost per month
  • Your lifestyle: things you need to take into consideration when taking out a health insurance policy (and that you must be honest about otherwise you risk invalidating your policy entirely if you are found to be not telling the truth). This includes if you are overweight, or if you are a smoker.
  • Your family’s medical history: is there a history of cancer, stroke or heart disease in your immediate family? Your policy could cost more per month

Is it possible to lower the cost of health insurance?

Yes, it could be possible in a number of ways:

  • Choosing a higher excess can help to reduce the cost of your health insurance premiums. However, you need to be aware that should you make a claim, it will be more expensive
  • If you choose to only be covered by just a few hospitals or surgeries, then the overall premium could be cheaper
  • If you are able to provide proof that you are in good health (such as proving you regularly attend a gym, or do not smoke) it could reduce the overall cost