Are you are looking for the peace of mind that comes with health insurance? The reassurance that - should you ever need it - private healthcare and treatments would be available to you without the NHS waits? But you're not really sure where to start with comparing the array of different policies and companies out there? Then you've found the right page.

Our expert advisers at Usay Compare, have put together some information to help you understand better how a policy works and what to compare, in your quest to find the perfect policy. If you would like to speak to one of our advisers on the phone, our service is completely free of charge and impartial, just hit the button below and fill in the short form for a quote. 

 

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What Is Health Insurance? 

Health Insurance is a policy which covers payment of fast and effective private medical treatment, outside of the NHS. It means you can skip the long waits for treatment on the NHS and receive more flexible treatment in superior comfort. Health Insurance usually pays directly for diagnostics and treatment at a private hospital and always aims to try and return you to the same state of health as when you took the policy out.

What Should You Compare Between Health Insurance Policies?

There are lots of different factors to compare with Health Insurance policies. Policies consist of core cover and optional extras. Core cover comes as standard but can include different benefits depending on the company. The extras enhance your cover but will cost extra.

 


Comparing Core Cover

What to look for and compare in the benefits which are included within the 'core cover'.

Benefit Details
In-patient cover

Cover for when you’re admitted to hospital and stay overnight. Cover usually includes hospital accommodation charges, specialist fees such as consultants, surgeons and anaesthetists, diagnostic tests and scans such as CT, PET or MRI, plus X-rays or physiological tests. Some insurers also offer additional benefits, such as physiotherapy, as part of their in-patient cover.

Day-patient cover Covers you when you’re admitted to hospital and discharged the same day and usually includes the same benefits as in-patient cover.
Out-patient cover

Covers you when you visit a hospital and return home the same day without being admitted – in other words, you’re not given a hospital bed. Out-patient cover includes the cost of consultations, diagnostic scans/tests and some minor surgical procedures. This is an important comparison point as the level of outpatient cover included within core cover as standard can vary considerably. Some insurers also include physiotherapy in their out-patient cover.

Cancer cover

Most Health Insurance policies will offer cancer cover within their core cover. It is one of the most valued benefits of health insurance policies, but also an important factor to compare as the level of cover included within core cover can vary. You would be looking for this to include radiotherapy, chemotherapy, surgery and consultants' fees in the core cover. Some areas to compare would be options for home treatment, the allowance for prosthesis and wigs, out-patient treatment and cash benefits if you are treated on the NHS.  
Digital GPs and health support

Most policies offer Digital GPs and telephone support within their core cover offering, to allow you access to prompt and convenient health advice. If this is important to you, it’s worth comparing the service of each digital GP. Some even offer same day appointments, worldwide cover and prescription deliveries.

Mental Health Support

The majority of mental health treatment will fall under an optional extra, rather than core cover, but if this is something important to you it is worth comparing the access to preventative measures and early intervention treatments which are sometimes included within core cover. Benefits such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and talking therapies can be included, as well as preventative support such as mindfulness apps and online support communities. 

Family Benefits

If you have a family, there are some additional benefits which are worth comparing. Some policies will include cover for pregnancy complications whereas others don't. Childbirth cash benefits are available with some policies, which may vary in value. Some cover newborns for free and others will cover parent accommodation if your child is unwell. The value of this can vary as well as the maximum age this applies for. 

 

 

Optional Extras 

In addition to the core cover, Health Insurance usually offers several optional extras - to enhance the cover to suit you, at additional cost. They usually include the following:  

  • Extended outpatient cover
  • Dental and Optical cover
  • Mental health cover
  • Travel cover
  • Therapies cover (such as physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic)

What does it not cover? 

Health Insurance is not intended for covering emergencies or chronic conditions. Chronic conditions are long term illnesses which you won’t recover from, such as asthma or arthritis. Typical things which are not regularly covered by a health insurance policy are: 

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Treatment for Alcoholism or Substance addiction
  • Chronic/long-term conditions
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Gender reassignment
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Pregnancy and childbirth

 

Comparing Optional Extras

Extended Out-patient Cover: The level of outpatient cover included within core cover varies, so it is a key point to compare. Some more comprehensive policies may include enough within the core cover to suit you, whereas others would require the optional extra, to have the same level of cover. Sometimes there are variable options to cap your level of out-patient cover at a specific figure. 

Travel: This optional extra will extend your policy to cover you for medical emergencies abroad. It's useful to compare the maximum amount you are covered for. Travel cover can also cover you for standard travel insurance features, such as personal accident and personal liability, cover for missed or delayed flights, loss of travel money and passports, legal protection, and some winter sports. Compare these benefits as well as checking if any countries are excluded and if there is a maximum days/duration of trip limit or a maximum age limit for taking out the cover.

Dental: Some policies include some dental surgeries as part of the core cover, but predominantly it will only be available as an optional extra. Dental cover as an optional extra is likely to include major dental work such as crowns, bridges, route canal and emergency treatments and can also cover more routine work such as routine examinations, scaling and polishing, X-Rays and fillings. Often there is an annual maximum for each types of treatment, some even work more like a separate cash plan. So compare the values as well as the exact treatments which are covered. 

Optical: Optical cover can help pay for the cost of eye tests, glasses or contact lenses (usually provided if there has been a change in prescription). Alternatively, you can opt for a more general level of cover, which will pay for some general optical costs.

Mental Health: You can add the optional to covers you for the diagnosis and treatment of most mental health issues. Cover varies from insurer to insurer, but usually includes access to in, day and out-patient treatments.

Therapies: This covers the cost of physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic treatment. Some insurers include other holistic therapies. Compare the types of therapy available and any maximum claim values imposed. 

For more on definitions, see our glossary.

 

 

Other Options You Will Need to Consider

There are usually some other choices to make which can enhance your cover or reduce your premiums. These usually include the following:

Hospital lists: All insurers have a list of approved hospitals you can choose to attend for treatment. Sometimes insurers offer different lists to choose from You may be able to reduce your premium by excluding certain prestigious or central London hospitals. It’s important to compare which hospitals are included in the policies you are looking at.

No-claims discount (NCD): Your level of NCD will vary according to whether you currently have a Health Insurance policy or not. If you have, the insurer will take your claims history into account when calculating your premium. If you claim on your policy, your NCD may reduce – the amount it will reduce by varies according to your insurer. If you don’t claim on your policy for a full year, your NCD will increase. Some insurers offer the option to protect your NCD for an addition to your premium.

Six-week option: If you choose the six-week option, and your treatment is available on the NHS within six weeks, you must use the NHS. If NHS treatment isn’t available within six weeks, your policy will cover you for immediate private treatment. The six-week option is a great way to reduce your premiums if avoiding long waiting times is a key motivator for purchasing health insurance.

Excess: If you choose to add a voluntary excess to your policy you will be responsible for the first part of any claim you make, to a specified amount, ranging from £100 to £5,000. Most excesses are offered per person per year, though some insurers offer an excess for each claim, which is another way to reduce your premium. More on making health insurance cheaper.

 

Underwriting

There are two main types of underwriting for PMI polices: moratorium (sometimes called mori) and full medical underwriting (FMU).

Full medical underwriting

Full medical underwriting (FMU) requires you to provide your complete medical history – and that of all policyholders – when you take out your policy. The information you provide may mean the insurer excludes certain conditions from cover for the lifetime of the policy.

Moratorium underwriting

Moratorium underwriting doesn’t require you to disclose your medical history. However, for the first two years of your policy you won’t be covered for anything you’ve had symptoms, treatment, medication, diagnostic tests or advice on in the five years before your policy start date.

If, after a two-year consecutive period, you meet certain criteria (usually this includes remaining symptom, treatment, medication or advice free from that condition), then it will become eligible for cover.

Moratorium underwriting offers the potential for pre-existing conditions to be covered after a two-year period. Usay Compare can set up a moratorium policy over the phone to provide you with immediate cover.

Comparing Health Insurance can be confusing and time confusing but it is very important to get it right. Our advisers are always on the end of the phone ready to do all the hard work for you. They can offer free, impartial advice to find the best policy for you and make sure you understand it fully.

 

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Health Insurance Guides

Below are our in-depth guides to help you decipher the various Health Insurances available and learn more about how they work. Don't forget our advisers are always at the end of the phone to offer free, expert advice should you prefer to speak to someone in person.

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