Health insurance is a policy that protects the insured in case of illness or injury, and that pays for the appropriate medical treatments required, based upon limits established within the individual policies.
It is commonly known as private medical insurance or PMI for short. PMI can help you avoid the long queuing times within the NHS and in some cases can allow you to choose your hospital and a private room to facilitate a more comfortable stay.
Private medical insurance is often known as PMI, or more simply 'health insurance'. It pays for private treatment if you fall ill. Standard PMI policies cover essential treatments, including surgery, consultations, nursing and hospital care.
There are two types of plan, known as fully underwritten and moratorium. Fully underwritten policies require you to disclose your full medical history to establish what will and won\u2019t be covered. Moratoriums simply impose blanket exclusions on pre-existing conditions going back a set number of years.
In the UK, the NHS offers free health care at the point of need, so there's arguably no need to take out a private health insurance policy. Reasons cited by people opting for private cover include fear of superbugs such as MRSA, hospital cleanliness and a desire to avoid long waiting lists.
PMI allows you to receive fast-track consultations and private treatment for short-term, curable medical problems. You'll either be treated privately in an NHS hospital or be booked into a private hospital.
Premiums vary, depending on the level of cover you buy, your age, state of health and whether or not you smoke. Your premiums will tend to go up annually to keep pace with medical costs and because the risk of illness increases with age. Discounts are often available if you agree to pay the first part of any claim, known as an 'excess'.
Many policies also include a no-claims bonus, which rewards you for staying in good health. This feature should not dissuade you from getting suspected problems checked out, so avoid policies that threaten to remove a bonus merely for visiting your doctor.