Health insurance buying guide

Many of us have heard of health insurance, many of us may know about health insurance, but many of us haven’t got the first idea about what it is and how it can be of benefit to us.

We want to try and simplify things for you. Put it in an understanding way that cuts out the jargon and doesn’t cause confusion. But where to start? Well, maybe with the basic question of what is health insurance?

By Bob Atoo
January 10, 2015

Health insurance is…

Quite simply, Health insurance (also known as private medical insurance) does what it says on the label, it insures your health.

We all realise how lengthy the waiting lists can be if you needed an operation or specialist appointment on the NHS, however, with private medical insurance, or health insurance, you bypass the waiting lists and get treatments at the earliest opportunity.

Should you be unfortunate to experience ill health, by having health insurance, it gets you onto that road to recovery sooner so that your life doesn’t need to be put on hold.

What different types of cover are there for me?

Health insurance works on a basis of where you are assessed on your general health and lifestyle. There are many different policies and levels of cover provided, so it’s the case of letting the insurer find one that best suits you.

With most health insurance policies, it is a monthly premium and then if any treatment is required, up to specified limits, the policy will then pay out.

Premiums can be reduced by demonstrating you lead a healthy lifestyle, for example by going to the gym or exercising regularly and being a non smoker. Some insurers also offer health cash plans. These can contribute towards your routine health care costs. They work by paying a cash lump sum whenever you visit, for example, a dentist, chiropractor, optician or chiropodist.

What should I check for when taking out health insurance?

As with a lot of policies, premiums tend to increase the older you are, due to more medical conditions becoming apparent.

However, there are exceptions to this, again, based on your lifestyle and general fitness. Many policies also charge an excess amount. This means an amount is set for you as the policyholder to pay if a claim is made.

For those who are looking for more comprehensive cover, but want to remain on a lower premium, one option would be to choose a medical policy which offers a wider range of benefits but which enables you to have a higher excess. An important point to remember if choosing this type of option is that although your premiums will be lower per month, in the event of a claim, you could be facing a large payment on the excess.

Before taking out any level of cover, you want to find out exactly what benefits are offered and which ones may or may not apply to you. You don’t want to be paying more for a policy if the benefits aren’t applicable to you. If you opt for a low cost plan, then there are chances that it may not cover treatments costs, instead only paying for hospital admission.

As with any insurance, you should always read the small print on your cover to make sure you know what is covered and what is not.