UK residents who prefer not to wait for free treatment on the NHS can buy private medical insurance. Most UK private insurance companies let you combine private policies into one premium for all members of a family. Private insurance is renewed yearly -- automatically, if all premiums during the year were paid on time -- and premiums usually increase with each renewal. Private medical insurance offers an additional peace of mind for your own health and that of your immediate family.
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The price of family health insurance differs substantially depending on number of family members, their age, place of residence, pre-insurance health conditions and lifestyles. The price also varies depending on the level of cover a family chooses. An average UK family can usually afford a basic insurance package, while comprehensive packages are more expensive. With a free alternative available from the National Health Service, families should be able to combine private and state services in a way that avoids too much pressure on the family budget.
What is covered?
Most private insurers offer three levels of cover. Plans name differ, but the fuller the package the more expensive it is. Family insurance plans can include any and all of the following: hospital fees, emergency surgery, physiotherapy, surgeon’s fees, consultations, scans, tests, travel medical cover, cancer cover and dental care. With cancer care, some private insurers claim to provide access to lifesaving drugs not offered by the NHS. Private family insurance plans are flexible, so you can tailor them to your specific needs or budget.
Family health insurance offered by a typical UK private insurer costs around £7 per month, if you are under 30 years of age, self-employed, do not smoke and live outside the UK’s big cities. For 40 year olds, the price is around £10; for 50 year olds it is around £14. The price of a comprehensive family plan can be as high as £250 per month. You might be able to find lower prices and, with more intense competition between private insurers, the prices are likely to go down.
Bringing the cost down
Most insurers offer cheaper plans if you agree to special policy terms. For example, if you will pay less if you agree to be treated in one of the private clinics offered by the insurer. Another option is to resort to private treatment only in cases where NHS waiting lists are lengthy and you may have to wait weeks or months for an operation or procedure.
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