Lung Disease and PMI
Photo: William Warby: /CC

Top 5 Killers in UK: 4 - Lung Disease and Health Insurance

In our series on the Top 5 we now come to the next big killer in the series - respiratory problems i.e. lung disease.

A government report “Living Well For Longer”, blames the top 5 killers for more than 150,000 deaths a year in England alone.

The Department of Health estimates two-thirds of them are entirely avoidable.  (NHS Choices)

Respiratory disease covers a variety of conditions from asthma to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), one of the commonest causes of death. Of the deaths from this disease most (85%) are caused by smoking (NHS Choices)

Lung Disease and Vaping (E-Cigarettes)

There has been much debate over the last few years about the safety (or not) of Vaping (E-Cigs).

Are they harmful?

The Guardian reported last year on a US study done on mice, which showed that E-Cigs may harm the lungs and the immune system. The researchers noted “we have observed that they (E-Cigs) increase the susceptibility to respiratory infections in the mouse models.”

The Study, which was conducted by Professor Biswai  at John Hopkins University in the US, observed that “our findings suggest that e-cigarettes are not neutral in terms of effects on the lungs.”

However, a major UK public health body stated in August 2015 that vaping is significantly safer than smoking. The health body Public Health England concluded that “on the best estimate so far”, e-cigarettes are about 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and could one day be dispensed as a licensed medicine in an alternative to anti-smoking products such as patches.

For a public body to come out and vote in favour of vaping is a big boost to the pro-e-cig movement.

However, since this announcement in the summer, a number of experts have come out and claimed the statement to be premature.
So…the jury still seems to be out on the safety of vaping. I guess the only way to be 100% sure of not getting any harmful effects of vaping or smoking is…to not do either.

How to Prevent Lung Disease

There is much research that still needs to go into the causes of lung disease, if we are to understand it fully. However, the science shows that there are certain things that everyone can do in order to prevent the onset of lung disease. These include:
  • Staying active
  • Eating well
  • Breathing deeply
  • Making sure your workplace is safe
  • Not smoking

Lung Disease and Private Medical Insurance

We have seen from the posts on cancer and heart disease that there is significant coverage by PMI for these conditions.

Does the same apply for lung disease?

Well, the quick answer is yes and no.

Obviously, like all conditions, if you have lung disease (such as COPD) as a pre-existing condition, it will not be covered.

But if you develop lung disease after you have taken out PMI, then, provided you have both in-patient and out patient cover, you will be covered for all diagnostics, tests, and consultations in hospital (except emergency – this is always covered by the NHS, as there are no private emergency wards on the UK currently).

However, you would not be covered for the long term treatment of something like COPD, as it considered a chronic condition, and currently incurable.

There would be cover for you if you contracted a lung disease like pneumonia, as this is a treatable condition.

However, much of the on-going treatment for lung disease is based on lifestyle changes – eating well, doing exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking.

So there is some PMI cover to help you when needed – but we have to do our bit!