The importance of private health insurance for seniors
The importance of private health insurance for seniors
Charlotte Rose Daniells
The older you get, the more likely it is that you’ll need medical attention for an illness, an injury, or a combination of conditions that more commonly occur in those who are elderly. Frequent illness or injury can take a toll on your quality of life, so having access to prompt medical treatment and high-quality care is essential to living well in your 60s and beyond.
But is private health insurance the answer? In the following guide, we’re going to take a look at some of the benefits of private health insurance for seniors: what it is, what it includes, and how it can improve your quality of life from your working years through to retirement.
Just like any other health insurance plan, health insurance for seniors is private healthcare coverage that covers you for private medical treatment in the event where you fall ill unexpectedly, or sustain a non-emergency injury.
With a private health insurance plan, you’ll pay a monthly premium to your chosen provider; this premium is usually calculated by determining your own personal risk factor, which is usually done by taking your age and postcode into account.
In the event that you fall ill or require non-emergency medical treatment, you’ll be able to claim on your insurance policy and receive medical treatment in a private facility, per the terms and conditions laid out in your insurance agreement.
The level of cover you receive with a health insurance policy will depend on a number of factors, such as your chosen provider, as well as the type of coverage that you opt for.
For example, basic health insurance policies tend to offer full in-patient treatment and limited out-patient treatment; this means that while you may be treated in a private hospital for a condition or illness, the diagnostic process will be carried out via the NHS, or, if you choose to pay out of pocket, by a private doctor.
On the other hand, if you opt for a comprehensive health insurance plan, you’ll likely have access to full in-patient and out-patient care; this means that all scans and consultations during the diagnostic process will take place in a private medical facility, as will any inpatient treatment.
Both basic and comprehensive health insurance policies will usually offer digital GP consultations, as well as cancer cover, but don’t forget that terms and conditions of each over 60 health insurance policy will vary from provider to provider, so it’s best to shop around - with the help of a broker like Usay Compare - to find a plan that works best for you.
Do note that health insurance won’t cover any chronic, long-term or pre-existing conditions - this includes diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and allergies.
Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of a private healthcare policy is being insured for cancer treatment. This is especially true for seniors or anyone over the age of 60, as age is the biggest risk factor for developing cancer - in fact, according to Cancer Research UK, 50% of all cancer diagnoses occur in those aged 70 and over.
Medical studies have also consistently drawn a link between ageing and an increased cancer risk; as our bodies age, our cells become increasingly damaged, an inevitability that is often compounded by smoking, alcohol consumption, and excessive UV exposure. In addition to this, the risk of cancer-related mortality also increase with age, with mortality rates amongst those over 75 being significantly higher than those in younger age groups.
With all this in mind, having access to prompt, high-quality cancer care is paramount for those over the age of 60. Yet as the NHS is set to miss its 2023 target for cancer patients, many are deciding to undergo time-sensitive cancer treatment in private facilities. However, without pre-established health insurance, the cost of private cancer care can mount into the tens of thousands of pounds.
This is where health insurance comes in handy: most providers will offer cancer cover in both their basic and comprehensive health insurance plans, which can give you peace of mind in the event of a serious diagnosis. Plus, don’t forget that cancer treatment is constantly evolving, and private medical facilities may even have access to new or innovative treatments.
Again, do remember that terms will vary from provider to provider, so it’s best to shop around for the best deal and the best coverage.
Another benefit of health insurance is the possibility of accessing digital GP consultations. Rather than waiting weeks or even months to secure a consultation slot with your local GP, many insurers, such as Bupa, offer virtual consulting, where you can speak with a trained GP and even obtain a prescription. In some cases, you can do so without even leaving your home - insurers such as Bupa and Aviva offer home delivery for prescriptions. For the elderly, those with mobility issues, and those who are unable to drive to their local surgery, virtual consultations and medication delivery services can offer transformative support.
Cancer isn’t the only time-sensitive illness or condition that is common in those over 60, and while A&E treatment isn’t covered with health insurance, everything from joint pain to broken bones requires quick treatment. But getting prompt treatment isn’t always a guarantee when using the NHS: in fact, research by the British Medical Association has shown that UK GPs are struggling to make successful outpatient referrals. The number of unsuccessful GP referrals to outpatient services went from 238,859 in February 2020, to a staggering 401,115 in November 2021 - representing an 87% increase. While these figures are most likely due to the ongoing COVID-19 backlog in the NHS, it does mean that patients can end up waiting months for appropriate care - and if you’re over the age of 60 and depend on your mobility to go about your day-to-day life, the impact of such delays can be devastating.
With a private health insurance plan, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’ll get a speedy, prompt referral in the event of an illness or injury, and receive treatment in some of the best hospitals in the UK.
In short, yes. As the NHS struggles to meet cancer targets, and as GPs find it increasingly difficult to make successful referrals, private health insurance can offer invaluable peace of mind for those over the age of 60. Whether you choose a basic plan or a comprehensive plan, you can rest assured that you’ll receive the care and attention needed in the event of an unexpected illness or injury.
Plus, many insurers even offer discounts on gym memberships - so health insurance isn’t just about cancer cover or top-of-the-range treatment; it’s also about promoting healthy living in your 60s and beyond.
Your premium can be paid on a monthly or annual payment plan. The most common way to pay is by direct debit – this method is accepted by all our insurers. Some of our insurers also accept payment by BACS and annual payment by cheque.
All insurers have a “cooling off period” usually between 14 and 30 days, allowing you to cancel your policy and any monies debited will be fully refunded. Should you choose to cancel outside of the 'cooling off period', you will need to notify us and we will be able to assist you from there.
As a nation we are fortunate to have a publicly funded health service, giving everyone access to treatment at little to no cost. Due to increasing pressure on the NHS, many people now face long waiting lists and delayed or cancelled treatment.Whilst receiving private treatment you will not face long waiting lists for treatment, in fact you are likely to be seen within a week or so. Health Insurance offers you access to a choice of hospitals and treatment times that suit you, with overnight stays often being in a private room.
Long NHS waiting lists and cancelled or delayed procedures are a common motivation for initial enquiries into Health Insurance. Depending on the condition, it is unlikely it will be covered on your plan. Although, if you have a pre-existing condition speak to one of our expert advisors as different underwriting options may suit your needs.
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