Health insurance can provide several benefits, such as financial help with private health care, shorter waits for testing or treatment and specialist referrals. In some cases, there may be a long wait for non-urgent tests and treatment, but with health insurance you can speed up the process by arranging private healthcare which you may otherwise not be able to afford.

Types of health insurance

There are various types of health insurance available. You can buy basic policies which will cover inpatient treatments, including tests and surgery, or comprehensive policies which will also provide you with cover for outpatient treatments, such as appointments with specialists and consultants. Comprehensive policies may cover the costs for recuperative care and hospital expenses, as well as including cover for psychiatric treatment, home nursing and chiropody.

Health insurance is not compulsory, but some choose to have it to offer them more choice of where to have treatment and, in some cases, faster access to treatment. Health insurance can provide the option of having treatment in a private hospital, which may be difficult to afford without insurance.

Factors to consider

Before taking out a health insurance policy, it is worth checking if you already have cover. Many employers offer health insurance for their employees, so you may be covered while you remain employed with the firm. If you do have cover with your employer, you should check what is included, as you may still wish to take out additional insurance.

An important factor to take into account is that pre-exiting conditions are not normally covered. However, you must declare any health conditions when taking out the insurance or the provider may declare the policy invalid.

Other factors that you will need to consider are the amount of cover that you require and the maximum level of premium that you wish to pay. You should also be aware that not all treatments are covered, so you will need to check the terms and conditions for details.

Where to get the best deal

When buying health insurance, there are a lot of options available. Ways to ensure that you are getting the best deal include:

  • Using a broker, as they will be able to discuss your needs and find the best deal
  • Using a price comparison site to compare insurers
  • Seeking personal recommendations

Also consider when comparing premiums that there is normally an excess to pay on any claim, and a cheaper premium may mean a larger excess.

Before buying any health insurance, it is important to research the options to ensure that you are getting the cover that you need at a price that you can afford.