A recent YouGov poll revealed that one in eight people have used private healthcare in the last year. And Private Medical insurers have also reported that half a million more people have bought private healthcare in the same period.
The ongoing pressures upon the NHS are leading to increased waiting times for diagnosis and treatments with nearly 3 million patients waiting over 18 weeks. As a result, growing numbers of people are turning to private healthcare, many for the first time.
What is PMI?
Private Medical Insurance (PMI) is a policy that provides quicker quick access to leading UK medical care and hospitals than may be available via the NHS. It typically covers the treatment of acute conditions. Accidents and emergencies are not covered and will be treated by the NHS.
PMI has changed in recent years in order that policies work to complement and improve the NHS rather than acting as a replacement. We’ve also seen policies become more flexible since the pandemic.
How much does it cost?
One common perception about PMI is that it is very expensive and is sometimes viewed as a ‘luxury’. While more comprehensive policies will inevitably come at a higher price, healthcare insurers have adapted their products so that PMI is available at a range of different cover levels and premiums, to meet the needs of different customers.
The cost of your PMI premium will depend upon a number of factors – such as your age, location and your medical history.
There are also ways that the cost of cover can be managed, including
- choosing a policy that offers full inpatient treatment but limited outpatient care
- deciding not to include certain ‘extras’ that may not be essential
- opting for a voluntary excess on your policy to reduce your premium. Depending on the provider and policy, this might operate on each claim, or might apply to your overall policy.
Can I pay as I go?
You could choose to self-pay for private healthcare, without taking out a PMI policy. In this instance you just pay for what you need, as and when you need it.
This suits some people as it removes the need to make regular premium payments. However, it can be expensive especially for serious conditions. For example, a hip replacement in the UK currently costs around £10,000.
Is PMI worth it?
Choosing private healthcare is very much a personal choice. And as UK residents are entitled to free treatment on the NHS, there are no requirements to buy it.
In my experience, one of the biggest benefits for people who have invested in PMI is the peace of mind that they can get diagnosis and treatment quickly if they need it. PMI can be the right choice if:
- you don’t want to wait for NHS treatment
- you’d prefer to be treated in a private hospital (where possible)
- you want to be covered for drugs and treatment you can’t get on the NHS (but check the treatment is included in your policy before you buy)
How can CLA Healthcare help?
Our team of specialist independent advisers can work with you to understand and assess your specific needs, and review the market to find the most appropriate healthcare solutions to meet your requirements.
Whether you are new to PMI or have a policy already in place, all CLA members are entitled to a free healthcare insurance consultation to explore the options available with an adviser.
Last year, we saved CLA members an average of 27% on their annual premiums.
 NHS England