How to Get Cheap Health Insurance
In the UK, most residents are entitled to free healthcare under the NHS which is the best cheap health insurance of all. Though this a benefit envied by many countries across the globe, the recent presence of the COVID-19 pandemic has diminished the accessibility of this benefit. With hospitals filled and patient contact time spread thin across doctors, the current pandemic serves to highlight the potential benefit and importance of investing in health insurance. While it may be easy to find an insurance provider using the internet, it is often harder to find an affordable health insurance plan that provides suitable coverage and meets the financial budget of an individual.
As the UK sits in its third national lockdown, many people have been made redundant and unable to allocate a large portion of funds towards insurance policies. With the average UK household owning at least one insurance policy, the commitment to invest in health insurance is one that takes careful consideration and budgeting. To help you find cheap affordable health insurance, we at ShieldWise have composed an easy-to-read guide that addresses the key factors that influence health insurance pricing.
In a period where health is important, there is no better time than now to find an affordable health insurance company that will provide you the necessary coverage to weather the storm that is COVID-19.
What is health insurance?
Sometimes referred to as private medical insurance, health insurance is a policy set in place to cover the cost of private medical care in the event an individual becomes unwell. Working alongside the NHS, this plan offers benefits attributable to private medical care, including, shorter waiting times, location options and specialist treatments. Whether it is a broken arm or stomach pains, health insurance can provide you with the necessary support to address the medical issue at hand.
How does health insurance work?
When investing in a health insurance policy, you are required to pay an agreed premium rate that guarantees coverage. The size of this premium is dependent on the insurance company, your current health status and the excess paid before each claim. In the event a medical incident occurs, the policyholder is entitled to receive a payout to cover the cost of any consultation or treatment administered at a private hospital.
What does it cover?
Typically, health insurance is designed to cover non-routine tests and treatment for acute conditions that start after a policy begins. These covered conditions normally include musculoskeletal problems (e.g., short-term neck pain), digestive system conditions (e.g., appendicitis), cancer, heart diseases and ear conditions.
Like most insurance, the cover an individual will receive is dependent on the policy they invest in. Depending on the policy chosen, it is possible for health insurance policies to include, day-care surgery, specialist consultations and compensation pay for each night a policyholder spends in an NHS hospital.
Finding a suitable health insurance policy is one that requires the potential client to assess the types of medical conditions and service they will receive in the future.
What is not covered?
While health insurance policies can provide the necessary support to address most medical needs, it does not provide coverage for all treatments and illnesses. Adopting an approach that focuses on single claims reimbursement, many health insurances only provide coverage for the first initial tests for chronic disease and not the overall long-term treatment. In the event a policyholder is diagnosed with a chronic disease that requires long-term treatment, mediation or check-ups, coverage is limited, and the policyholder is transferred to the NHS. To prepare for this type of incident, readers should consider exploring critical illness life insurance.
In addition to this, health insurance policies also refrain from providing coverage for medical incidents that include organ transplants, pre-existing medical conditions, normal pregnancy and childbirth fees, cosmetic surgery and injuries that are the result of a dangerous sport or war. Though this may seem bleak, depending on the insurance company, it is possible to request additional protection for specific medical conditions.
Do you need it?
Just like many insurance policies, having health insurance is something that you must weigh up before deciding if it is worth it. To judge whether it is worth your time getting health insurance consider:
- If the NHS provides the sufficient support required to meet your health insurance needs. As highlighted earlier, if you are diagnosed with a chronic disease, you are likely to be passed on to the NHS. For this reason, it is important to consider if it is worth investing a monthly sum to receive cover for diseases that are not covered by most health insurance policies.
- Placing the money you would spend on premiums into a savings account. Remember, having health insurance does not prevent you from going to a private hospital when the need arises. In some cases, it is better to place a monthly sum of money into a savings account to cover the cost of any issue that arises down the line.
- Ask your employer if you have health insurance cover. What often goes unannounced is the number of people that are unaware of the benefits that come alongside their salary. Some companies offer free health and dental cover to their clients.
How to get cheap health insurance
While it may seem costly to invest in health insurance, there are avenues you can take to make health insurance cheaper and accessible. These avenues include:
Assess your optional add-ons
A lot of insurance plans in the UK offer a variety of optional add-ons, such as psychiatric treatment, dental and optical care, and the ability to choose the number of hospitals a policyholder has access to. While on the surface these additions seem valuable, most of these add-ons only serve to increase the overall monthly cost you are required to pay. If your priority is to keep the amount of money you invest in health insurance low, you may benefit from thinking carefully about which add-ons you need, and which you can afford to drop.
It is important to remember that health insurance is meant to act as a safety net and not a complete alternative to the NHS. With health insurance policies often making use of the sole claims approach, the decision to use a claim on dental care when NHS dental services are available will only serve to waste a claim and increase your next premium quote. NHS is a free service available to every UK citizen, make use of the services it offers and only invest in add-ons if you believe the quality of one these services is insufficient.
Increase the excess you pay
As previously touched upon, one of the avenues you can take to reducing the cost of health insurance is to increase your excess. Typically, when dealing with insurance companies, the higher the excess a client pays, the lower the monthly premium they will quote. This approach is normally the easiest option people can take to reduce the cost of any type of insurance policy. However, it is important to remember that once you make a claim, you are required to pay this excess.
Depending on the insurance company, it is possible to be charged an excess rate yearly, regardless of the number of claims made, or on a claim-by-claim basis. To identify which kind of excess payment service a company offers, it is important to read the small print before agreeing to anything.
Raising your excess can be a great option to finding cheaper health insurance, however, we recommend only choosing this option if you can afford it, or if you are using health insurance for ‘worst-case scenario’ cover.
Reduce the number of hospitals
Now I know this may sound counter-intuitive but reducing the number of hospitals you have access to; can significantly reduce the monthly premium you are required to pay. Though having access to multiple hospitals can be considered crucial when the time comes, most insurance companies only encourage this decision so that they can increase the premium you are required to pay. If you spend most of your life living in London what do you need access to hospitals in Leeds for? This option is ideal for policyholders that live in big cities that have access to many hospitals.
In some cases, insurance companies actively restrict you to a network of hospitals that offer them advantageous rates. This approach to hospital access serves to reduce the cost a company would have to pay to cover your claim, resulting in cheaper premium rates. Unless you live in a rural area with a few hospitals, we would recommend reducing your allocated hospital list to save money on your costs.
The multi-week option
As the name implies, some insurance companies offer cheaper premium rates if clients accept a multi-week alternative. Depending on the insurance provider, this alternative allows clients to reduce the cost of their policy by agreeing to accept NHS treatment if its available within 4-8 weeks of a claim. Making use of both NHS and private health care services, this approach is an easy compromise that reduces insurance cost and maintains policy coverage.
This method is ideal for policyholders who want to use health insurance as a safety net to address long NHS waiting lists. Additionally, this option serves to mitigate the impact of reducing your private hospital list as you would now have coverage for public hospitals. Though this option is ideal, it is important to bear in mind that only a small number of health insurance companies offer this service.
Improve your lifestyle
Pretty straightforward, if you want a cheaper health insurance policy you must become healthy. Arguably the most arduous option, cheap health insurance is easier to get if get rid of unhealthy habits in your life. Typically, insurance companies ask clients for detailed information about their lifestyle before they quote a premium rate.
In many cases, smoking is considered the most detrimental factor when it comes to health and life insurance prices. Non-smokers, or those who quit over a few years ago, often pay lower insurance premiums than current smokers. With reports suggesting a 15-30% difference in premium prices quoted for healthy and unhealthy clients, changing your lifestyle could not only save your life in the long run but also your wallet.
Consider critical illness life cover
Though this is not a form of health insurance, it may be worth considering critical illness cover if you are looking to use health insurance to deal with a ‘worst case scenario’ incident. Normally available as an optional add-on to life insurance, critical illness cover provides support to policyholders in the event of a serious illness contraction, or a severe medical condition diagnosis. This support comes in the form of a lump sum to cover the cost of treatment and bills under the policyholder’s name.
In the event of the policyholder’s death, designated beneficiaries will receive an agreed lump sum payout from the insurance company. This cover plan is ideal for people who want to prepare for a life-threatening illness and the repercussions associated with it.
Explore the options available to you
Lastly, in the UK, there are several insurance companies that offer their own health insurance policies. While it may be more convenient to simply apply for the first insurance provider you see, it can often prove quite costly to invest in an insurance policy that can be considered overpriced for the coverage you want. In some cases, it is possible to completely miss out on health insurance policies that offer more benefits for the same price quoted for a basic policy.
With many policies containing a cancellation fee, the decision to change to a different provider or policy during a coverage term can be both expensive and time-consuming. To help you make the right choice we recommend making use of comparison sites to find the right provider for the right price. Making use of a comparison site can help you sift through several insurance policies and companies to find the one that meets your budgetary requirements.
While there many comparison sites available, we recommend using the comparison site we offer at ShieldWise. Driven by a commitment to develop an excellent platform that helps customers find the ideal insurance provider, here at ShieldWise we offer a comparison service that instantly locates insurance policies that meet your financial needs.