How can I reduce the costs? - Private Health Insurance

The cost of health insurance is the main issue for many people when looking to take out a policy. There is an assumption that it is very expensive and is something only a wealthy minority can afford.

However, there are ways of reducing the costs.

Insurance providers offer a wide range of products which include ‘packages’ that cater for all budgets. These usually include the following 3 types of policies:

  • Budget The cheapest form of policy. This tends to cover in-patient treatment only so you will have to pay for diagnostic tests, consultant fees and outpatient treatment.  
  • Standard This covers in-patient treatment, consultations and outpatient treatment. It also includes diagnostic tests such as x-rays, scans, radiotherapy and chemotherapy up to a set limit. And therapies such as physiotherapy, osteopathy and acupuncture.
  • Comprehensive This is the ‘high end’ policy. This includes full in-patient and out-patient treatment, tests, consultations, hospital expenses and a whole range of benefits. This is the ultimate package for people who want complete peace of mind.

Full packages are not a cheap option so you may want to consider customising your policy so that it fits your needs and finances. There are a few ways of ensuring that you get the insurance cover you need which are:

  • Only choose the cover you need: don’t be pressurised into buying cover which is relevant to you, for example, cover for dependents if you are a single person.
  • Packages are a good option but again, only choose the one that suits your circumstances and pocket.
  • Look at a limited cover scheme: this is ideal if you can’t afford the cost of health insurance but would like the basic costs covered. Many people tend to combine this with NHS treatment in a ‘50/50’ approach. They use the NHS for emergencies or major illnesses but go private for minor or short term conditions. Another reason for choosing this is that many people don’t want to pay for additional extras such as screening, private ambulance, helplines etc and would rather pay for what they are likely to use. You may find that insurers offer limited cover schemes as budget packages.
  • Increase the amount of excess: this is one way of reducing your premium. You increase the amount of excess on a claim in return for a lower premium.
  • Choose to wait for treatment: this may sound contradictory as the main reason for choosing health insurance is to avoid waiting lists. But you may find that your insurer will offer a cheaper premium if you are prepared to wait for up to 6 weeks for treatment. If you find that the NHS will treat you in that time then that’s fine. If not, then you still have the option to be treated privately, and without waiting.
  • No claims discount: this is a common feature of car insurance but is now featuring in health insurance. You are offered a small discount on your premium which increases over time, providing you don’t make a claim.
  • Choice of hospital: one of the benefits of health insurance is the right to choose a private hospital. However, some insurers will restrict treatment to more expensive hospitals which are cheaper for the provider but not for you. One alternative is to agree to be treated at any hospital which can be cheaper. You will find that some insurance companies allow you to choose any hospitals whereas others limit your choice.
  • Buy your insurance online: you will find that many insurance companies offer a discount if you buy your policy online.

Other alternatives include paying your premium in full (yearly) rather than a monthly basis, paying by debit card rather than a credit card (more expensive) or following a healthy lifestyle which includes going to the gym. Some insurance companies offer discounts on gym membership or conversely, levy higher premiums on smokers and other less healthy choices.

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