5 thinks you must ask before taking out health insurance

1 Will I need a medical?
No. You will join the scheme under what is known as a moratorium option. That means that any pre-existing condition suffered during the last five years is excluded under the policy. The exclusion only lasts for the first two years of the new policy, after which eligible conditions are covered in full, assuming that you did not receive treatment, medication or advice, for it during the two years. A full explanation will be forwarded with the quotation.

2 Is age restrictive?
No. Anyone irrespective of age can obtain private medical insurance but the costs do reflect your age.

3 Can I use any hospital?
No. Each provider will offer a comprehensive list of available hospitals (between 200 – 700 hospitals) but you will usually have the option of treatment at a number of top-grade hospitals within your area. You will normally also be able to use specialist London Hospitals such as Great Ormond Street or Guys.

4 Are there any catches I should watch out for?
Unfortunately, yes. It is important to be aware that certain insurance providers restrict the amount they will pay for treatment by operating a specialist fee schedule system. The problems this creates were highlighted by BBC’s Watchdog programme and what this means is that the actual cost of your treatment could cost more than the limit the insurance company places on it. For example, if you were to undergo a hip replacement operation the actual cost could be £9500 whereas the fee schedule limit may be set at £7000. This would leave a £2500 shortfall which would have to be paid from your own pocket.

The companies operating specialist fee schedules are Norwich Union, PPP, Royal & SunAlliance, BUPA, WPA and BCWA.

5 What is meant by “family”?
Rates quoted in most cases are – Single Parent = up to 2 children. Family = 2 adults and 2 children. Some companies then charge an additional premium per child.