How is parent accommodation covered in your health insurance?


The importance of parent accommodation in health insurance

Having an ill child can be a stressful, emotionally challenging experience. This stress is often exacerbated by long commute distances between your home address and the hospital where your child is receiving treatment; sleepless nights and separation anxiety are just some of the side effects of having an ill child in hospital.

One way that this stress can be reduced is by having access to parental accommodation. Parental accommodation typically allows one parent to spend the night in the hospital overnight with their child, or remain in the hospital for the duration of their child’s treatment (and up to a certain age.)

Studies have shown that access to parental accommodation - especially for families living in rural areas - can significantly improve parental involvement in a child’s treatment, and can help to reduce the stress and sleeplessness common in parents of ill children. But how is parent accommodation covered in common health insurance policies? In this guide, we’re going to go over what parental accommodation means, what it includes, and its typical limits and conditions. Let’s take a look.

What is parental accommodation?

Parental accommodation allows one parent to stay in hospital overnight while their child undergoes medical treatment. While most NHS hospitals do already offer parents the possibility to stay overnight with their child, many NHS doctors have publicly criticised the lack of available beds for parents of sick children, with many forced to sleep on a bedside recliner chair.

With a health insurance policy that covers parental accommodation, one parent will be able to sleep in their own room while their child undergoes treatment, allowing them close proximity to both their child and the doctors in charge of their child’s treatment and care. Do note that parental accommodation will be subject to its own limitations (for example, only being available to parents of children under a certain age) and policies will vary across all insurance providers.

Do all private health insurance policies cover parental accommodation?

No. While parental accommodation is available in some family healthcare policies, it’s not included across the board. If you want to ensure accommodation for you or your co-parent should your child fall ill, you’ll need to compare different family health insurance policies from various providers.

Different types of parental accommodation

Parental accommodation cover will differ from insurer to insurer. For example, some providers will offer on-site accommodation in a parental facility, while other insurers will simply offer a refund for hotel expenses, up to a certain sum.

Benefits of parental accommodation

So, why is parental accommodation beneficial for parents of children undergoing hospital treatment? Here are just a few reasons why parental accommodation helps create a family-centred approach to healthcare:

Improved involvement

Having access to parental accommodation can improve the level of involvement in your child’s care. In a 2017 Canadian study, findings showed that parents who were able to stay overnight in a parental accommodation facility reported enhanced involvement in their child’s treatment. Not only will you be able to communicate more easily with your child’s doctors and nurses, but you’ll be present during non-invasive treatment, allowing you to support your child through the entire process.

Child-parent proximity

Being close to your child while in hospital can improve the overall experience for both of you, and provide your child with that all-important reassurance as they undergo treatment. This is especially true if your child is younger, or is staying in the hospital for a prolonged period of time (although do again note that insurance providers will usually have an upper limit on how long you can use your parental accommodation cover).

Support for rural families

If the hospital where your child is being treated is far from your home address, this can put both emotional and financial strain on your family and your child. This can be even more complicated if you don’t drive or own a car; relying on public transport can add unwanted stress to an already challenging experience.

How to access parental accommodation

For the security of knowing you’ll have a place to sleep in the event that your child is hospitalised, you can opt for a family health insurance plan with parental accommodation coverage included.

What is family health insurance?

A family health insurance UK policy is a form of medical insurance that covers you and any named members of your household in the event that you get sick or need medical treatment in a hospital. While not all family health insurance policies include parental accommodation coverage, many providers do offer this as part of their family healthcare plans, alongside other policies for those with young families, such as coverage for pregnancy complications.

Limitations and conditions on parental accommodation

As with all types of health insurance coverage, parental accommodation will be subject to its own limitations and restrictions, depending on the health insurance provider you choose. Here are some common limitations you can expect to encounter when it comes to parental accommodation:

Your child’s age

The age at which your child begins treatment will usually be a factor when it comes to determining your eligibility for parental accommodation, with most insurers’ age limits sitting between 12 to 16. Before settling on a family health policy, it’s a good idea to check this information across various insurance providers.

Annual overnight limit

Most health insurance policies will have a limit on how many nights you’re able to spend in parental accommodation with a sick child. For some insurers this limit can be up to 30 nights, although this figure may differ for other providers. Providers who offer to cover the costs of a hotel stay will usually impose a financial limit rather than an overnight limit, such as £500.

Named person policy

In order for you to be able to access parental accommodation, most insurance providers that offer this policy will stipulate that your child must be a named person on your family health insurance plan - this is just another benefit to opting for a family health insurance policy over an individual plan.


What happens if I reach my overnight stay limit?

If you reach your parental accommodation limit on your insurance policy, most NHS hospitals will be able to provide either a recliner chair or a pull-out bed for you to sleep on. For critically ill children, paediatric hospitals such as Great Ormond Street and Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children provide family accommodation centres for up to two parents, depending on availability and your child’s treatment. Other non-profit services, such as Ronald McDonald's House Charities, offer free on-site accommodation for parents of critically ill children, although this too is subject to availability.

Can both parents stay overnight at the hospital with a child?

Most hospitals will be able to guarantee a bed for at least one parent, and most insurance policies will usually only offer parental accommodation to one parent or caregiver. Both parents of a critically ill child will usually be able to find joint accommodation if their child is being treated at GOSH or GRHC, or another NHS paediatric facility.

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