How to protect your health ?

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    Every UK resident is entitled to free healthcare from the NHS, but you may want health insurance so that you can have a choice in the level of care you get, where you get treated, when you get treated, or if you didn’t want to use the NHS.

    The following products are designed for these circumstances:

    • private medical insurance
    • health cash plans
    • dental insurance

    Private medical insurance (PMI)

    This covers medical treatment and usually means you can get treated more quickly than on the NHS. The cover you get will vary, but basic private medical insurance may pay the costs of most in-patient treatments (tests and surgery) and day-care surgery.

    Some extends to out-patient treatments (such as visits to consultants or specialists). You can buy cover on a full medical underwriting basis. This means you will be asked questions about your health and, based on the information you provide, the insurer will decide the conditions of your cover.

    You can also apply for cover on a moratorium basis. This means you will not be asked any questions about your health, but if you have suffered from any health conditions in the last five years, these will automatically be excluded from cover for a stated time.

    You can’t take out cover now for treatment you know you’re going to need. If you’ve had health problems in the past, your insurer may also refuse to cover them. If you are asked to disclose these when applying for the insurance, you must do so or you could invalidate your policy.

    It also does not cover the treatment of chronic medical conditions, dental care, pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, fertility treatment,  ental or psychiatric conditions, and treatments you may choose to have, such as cosmetic surgery.

    To keep costs down you could choose to pay more of the bill, or you could choose cover that only applies if NHS services are not available within a certain timeframe.

    Check – find out if your employer provides health insurance as part of your benefits package.

    Health cash plans

    These provide limited cash sums towards everyday healthcare bills. Different policies cover one or a combination of types of healthcare, such as dental care, optical care, physiotherapy, or stays in hospital.

    Check – some policies have age restrictions and will cover you only if you are under a certain age (often 65). If you’ve had health problems in the past, the cash plan may not pay out on certain types of healthcare. Some plans also apply qualifying periods, which means they will not pay for any treatment you have in the first few months of the policy.

    Dental insurance

    This is a health cash plan that focuses on dental care. Most dental plans pay for twice-yearly check-ups, as well as for treatments such as crowns, root canal work, bridges and dentures up to an agreed maximum each year. More serious work such as oral cancer, surgery and serious dental abscesses are often excluded.

    – some of these policies are not transferable between dentists.