Private health insurance can help you and your family stay protected against unexpected and expensive medical bills by covering your medical costs (in part or fully) when making an eligible claim. Health insurance is designed to work alongside the NHS to reduce waiting times and provide people with additional healthcare coverage. If you’re new to health insurance, find out more about the benefits of getting covered.

Before buying a health insurance policy, it’s recommended to familiarise yourself with the topic. To help you do this, we’ve put together a list of five things you should know before purchasing health insurance.

1. There are different policies that offer different levels of cover

When it comes to health insurance, one size doesn’t fit all. That’s why, when in the market for private medical insurance, you will find multiple policies (even with the same provider), each offering different level of cover and benefits.

Policies can range from basic, usually providing cover for inpatient and day-patient treatment for unexpected, acute conditions up to certain limits, to more comprehensive policies which offer additional cover and benefits such as dental, optical, physiotherapy and mental health cover.

When buying health insurance, it’s important to know what cover is included to make sure it aligns with your healthcare needs. Moreover, the level of cover will also impact your premium – basic policies will be more affordable than comprehensive plans.

It’s also good to know that with some health insurance providers, you can add and remove benefits as you wish before buying, allowing you to tailor your policy around your health and budget requirements.

2. Not all medical conditions are covered by health insurance

Private health insurance is designed to cover unexpected, acute conditions which can be cured in a short period of time. This means that most health insurance providers will not cover chronic conditions.

Chronic conditions require ongoing long-term care and usually don’t have a known cure. Some examples of chronic conditions are high blood pressure, diabetes, epilepsy, arthritis, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Additionally, health insurance doesn’t usually cover conditions that arose before you commenced the policy. These are referred to as pre-existing conditions. Subject to your underwriting method, you might be required to disclose any pre-existing conditions that you suffer from when you apply for health insurance

3. The excess on your policy can increase or lower your premium

The excess is an agreed amount of money a policyholder pays towards their treatment when the claims is approved. It can be optional or mandatory depending on the provider and you can usually choose between different levels of excess.

Typically, the higher the excess you have on your policy, the lower your premium will be. This is because you agree to pay a certain amount of money towards your medical costs, making it cheaper for the insurer. Having a higher excess may be beneficial for lowering your premium, however it is very likely that your renewal premium would be significantly increased, equally if you know you have a high excess to pay and do not have the money immediately available it can put you off claiming.

4. Your premium is likely to increase every year upon renewal

Health insurance policies usually last for 12 months, after which, the policyholder can choose to renew their contract. Each provider will have their own way to calculate renewal premiums but often, you can expect to see an increase in price, this is due to several factors.

One of the main reasons why your premium could see an increase is your claims history. If you made any claims during your policy year, this could cause a jump in your premium. Your age is also taken into consideration and some insurers might raise your premium at every renewal or when you reach a certain age category.

Other factors leading to an increased renewal price are general inflation rates and medical inflation (when medical advances cause the cost of medical treatments and drugs to go up).

5. A health insurance brokers can offer you specialist advice for free

Health insurance can be complicated and with so many offers on the market, the decision-making process can be confusing for buyers. To help with this, you can contact a health insurance broker.

A health insurance broker has access to all or most health insurance products on the market and can compare prices and cover. If you’re new to health insurance, a health insurance broker could be the best option to answer all your questions, explain specific terminology and give you personal advice on things such as cover and medical exclusions. A broker can also help you find the best deal for your budget so you know you are getting the best value for your money, as well as the right medical cover that you can rely on when you need to.

A broker can also help you in the application process and at renewal, can help you switch if necessary. On top of everything else, the services provided by a health insurance broker are usually free of charge.

If you’re looking for a broker or have any questions about health insurance, our expert advisers are here to help you at no extra cost!

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