Among the many other concerns we all have at the moment with regards to the recent Coronavirus pandemic is the worry of how it will affect our protection insurances, our Private Health insurance being one of them. How are insurers responding to the crisis? And what do you do if you contract COVID-19 and have Private Health insurance?
It’s unsurprising to read that with the current pandemic sweeping the globe, the private healthcare sector has been disrupted, with staff and hospitals all supporting the NHS-lead response.
Waiting times for private policyholders have increased, with elective surgeries being, understandably, postponed or even cancelled altogether. Obviously the main reason people purchase Private Health insurance is the benefit of quick access to care, and with that no longer being the case, what are insurers offering as a sweetener?
- For one, more services, for example, mental health support, as well as widening their range of referrals.
- Offering access to medical experts via apps and video links, as a way of responding to social distancing measures.
- Some insurers are offering lower premiums due to their reduced cover.
- And some are offering a pause in premiums altogether.
- Offering an increased cash benefit for overnight stays in NHS hospitals.
So, Who Exactly Is Doing What?
Aviva – Existing customers should contact them to discuss their options, which are being dealt with on an individual basis. They are offering £100 per night cash benefit for a stay in an NHS hospital.
AXA PPP – Have increased their overnight cash benefit for a stay in an NHS hospital to £150 per night, and will adjust premiums for existing policyholders all the while there are treatment delays. Also, AXA PPP are offering extra wellbeing
support, as well as a virtual clinic where customers can speak to a consultant over the phone or online.
Bupa – Although some treatments will be delayed, and customers will receive reduced premiums because of this, Bupa is continuing with urgent care for diseases such cancer. During the pandemic referrals for treatment have been extended by up to 3 months, but there is now a digital GP app available for policyholders, which also covers COVID-19 related mental health conditions.
Exeter – Exeter have doubled their cash benefit for overnight stays in NHS hospitals from £500 to £1000, capped at 20 nights.
Freedom Health – Policyholders with Freedom can access a GP 24/7, and also have access to an online video consultation everyday from 8am – 7pm.
General & Medical – These guys are still offering the overnight stay cash bonus – but NOT for any policyholders hospitalised with COVID-19, however all customers can access a GP via the phone or online 24/7.
Health-On-Line – Have increased their overnight stay bonus from £100 to £150
Vitality – All Vitality customers can access GP line, and have upped their NHS hospital overnight stay to £250 per night for those admitted with the virus – this then increases to £500 per night from the 8th night onwards, capped at £5000.
WPA – Policyholders can downgrade to reduced cover for 3 months and still maintain remote GP, NHS cash benefit, and access to the wellbeing helpline.
All in all, not bad…but what should you do if you have a Private Health Insurance policy and you contract the coronavirus?
What Should Privately Insured Coronavirus Patients Do?
The NHS is leading the response when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, so even if you have Private Health Insurance, you should still go down the NHS route – especially since there are no emergency facilities within private hospitals. However, private policyholders can still use their insurance to access advice and support.
So, in short you’re not really dipping out when it comes to your Private Health Insurance. For the most part you can negotiate either reduced or paused premiums, and no insurers have upped their premiums during the time of the pandemic. When it comes to COVID-19 i think it’s fair to say the NHS have got this, but if you were to become ill with the virus you will still be able to access support thanks to your health insurance provider, as well as still be able to benefit from your overnight in an NHS hospital cash bonus.