In this article I am going to be talking about the cost of Health Insurance and the factors that can affect your monthly premiums. All the usual culprits are here – age, habits, and where you live, so let’s go ahead and look at them in more detail.
In my article ‘What Is Health Insurance’ I explained what it is and the benefits of having it. Private Health Insurance can be notoriously expensive, and it’s not like we need it is it – we have the good old NHS afterall! But the truth of the matter is that when it comes to the health of both ourselves and our families, we’d all like to be seen as quickly as possibly should the worst happen, and have access to the widest range of treatments – preferably in the place of our choosing, rather than our local overstretched NHS hospital.
But how much is that luxury likely to set you back?
If you’ve read my other articles on the cost of various insurance premiums you’ll know by now that usually the answer is, ‘it depends’, and Health Insurance payments are no exception. Largely your monthly payments will depend on your provider, obviously some are cheaper than others, but what else can affect the cost?
The Type Of Cover You Choose
It’s probably fairly obvious even to someone who has never considered taking out Health Insurance before, that the more comprehensive your cover, the more it’s going to cost. Your basic policy will cover inpatient care only; so, any treatment where you are required to stay in hospital either overnight or as a day patient. (occupying a bed)
Mid-range policies provide a level of outpatient treatment on top of that – so treatment such as tests, scans or consultations, although normally this will be a capped amount per policy year. (not needing a bed)
Comprehensive Health Insurance will cover both inpatient AND outpatient treatment, either without a yearly cap or at least a much higher one, therefore giving you the best of both worlds and explaining why it will cost you more.
Options such as taking out a joint policy with a spouse can be cheaper than taking out two single policies, as can paying a higher excess.
Family Health Insurance plans are going to cost more in monthly premiums than a joint policy, but again less than all of the family taking out separate policies.
Health Insurance is going to cost you more if you live in certain areas, with some of the highest premiums being paid by policyholders living in London and the south-east. Obviously, this isn’t down to the residents of these areas being more likely to be ill, it’s simply down to the cost of living.
A stay at a private hospital in London is going to be considerably more expensive than elsewhere in the UK, and medical professionals in the south on average earn a higher wage than those in the north etc, and so these factors will affect your monthly premiums.
It won’t come as much of a shock to you that the cost of Health Insurance is higher if you are older, as there is a higher risk of you needing hospital treatment. And that’s that.
Few insurance companies have an upper age limit on their policies, so you shouldn’t be refused health cover whatever your age, but you can expect to pay over 3 times as much for your cover aged 56 to 65 than you would if you were under 25 years old.
Wahey!! Sorry, I digress…In the US private Health Insurance tends to be more expensive for women because they live longer, and the policies take into account pregnancy and maternity care. When it comes to Health Insurance here in the UK, pregnancy is viewed as a lifestyle choice and so isn’t covered by private Health Insurance policies, therefore your gender won’t be a factor when it comes to your monthly Health Insurance premiums.
By ‘habits’ I know that you know I’m talking about smoking. Being a smoker is going to affect the premiums of every single insurance policy you take out. And it’s not just the fags – tobacco use is defined as any tobacco product including cigars, snuff, pipe tobacco and chewing tobacco. If you have used any of those four or more times a week for the last 6 months it’s going to affect your Health Insurance premiums.
If you’ve given up smoking cigarettes and are sitting there smugly reading this while puffing out your blackcurrant vape cloud, just hold your horses a second. A lot of insurance companies will still treat vapers with the same disdain – sorry, ‘caution’ as cigarette smokers and you’ll be asked if you’ve used any nicotine products in the last 12 months – including e-cigarettes, so your premiums are likely to be the same as if you smoked cigarettes.
What about other nicotine replacements such as gum and patches?
Well, I’m proud of you for using them, I really am, but the reason insurance companies want to know about your use of these products is because to them there is still a risk you could return to smoking (sorry to stomp all over your achievement a bit there), but for some insurers you can’t have used ANY nicotine products for a minimum of five years before they’ll consider you a non-smoker.
Other habits such as drinking heavily, being dangerously overweight, or any kind of drug use, will all be treated in the same way as they would if you were taking out life or critical illness cover – your premiums are going to be higher because you’re much more likely to be hospitalised than someone who leads a healthy lifestyle.
And What About If I Have A Pre-Existing Medical Condition?
As you can probably already guess, Health Insurance is intended to cover any private care needed to treat conditions that you develop after you’ve taken out the policy. Having a pre-existing health condition isn’t going to stop you getting insurance, but it’s unlikely you’ll be covered for treatment if the condition flares up.
Some insurers will offer cover for pre-existing conditions if they believe it to be ‘minor’ (the definition of this can vary from insurer to insurer), or if they believe the symptoms are unlikely to present themselves again.
Providers are more likely to cover the condition if you haven’t experienced any symptoms for around five years – but that time limit can vary depending on your insurer.
So Do I Need To Have A Medical?
Most insurers will just ask you to fill out a medical history form rather than undergo a medical, but remember, as with all insurance, be completely honest when filling it in. If you make a claim and are later found to have lied on your forms to keep your payments lower you will not be covered, and could end up having to pay out a lot more than your monthly premiums would have cost you, so be good!
To get an exact price, it’s best to speak with a qualified adviser, who can tailor a policy to your needs. Our service is without obligation, either myself or a member of my team can call you back for a quote. Click Here. If you would like to get a quote, or if you have any further questions, we recommend speaking to a qualified advisor first, me or someone from my team would be more than happy to
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