It can be a false economy to go for the cheapest cover - but at the same time, no one - particularly the cost-conscious self-employed businessman - wants to waste money on things they don´t need. Firstly, you need to decide what level of treatment you want cover for. All plans will include inpatient treatment - that is, care where you need to stay in hospital overnight or longer. They will also include day patient treatment which again, means admittance to hospital but you don´t need to stay overnight. What some cheaper policies will exclude is outpatient treatment - that given in an outpatient clinic or consulting room which does not require you to be admitted to hospital.
Others will include out-patient cover but will limit the amount you can claim for out-patient consultants´ fees and diagnostic tests. Some may also exclude or limit the amount you can claim for therapy received on an out-patient basis - this can be a sensible economy as you may be willing to pay for your own osteopathy or physiotherapy treatment.
Another factor that can influence how much you pay for cover is whether you will be happy being limited to a set number of hospitals, selected by your insurer, or do you want to go wherever you wish for your care? The second option will be more expensive. But you may find that the consultant your GP has recommended will only work out of certain hospitals. If your insurer won´t cover you for that hospital, then you will need to find another consultant.
That will, for many self-employed people, be too much of a hassle to bear. While the all bells and whistles of a fully comprehensive, no excess plan may be the gold standard, it comes at a cost. And you may not need all the attachments nor be willing to pay for them. By excluding, say, out-patient care, you could cut your costs dramatically. Then, if you need out-patient care you can go through the NHS or pay for your own private treatment. Or you could opt for a plan where you pay the first part of any claim with the insurer paying the rest. Such plans can be dramatically cheaper than traditional cover.
And what about adding elements on to your cover - or just taking out insurance for particular conditions or treatments? Let´s look at all these options in more detail.
With this type of health cover, you choose a base level of cover and add or take things away. So, for example, you could choose to exclude out-patient consultations with a specialist; physiotherapy and diagnostic tests - such as blood and ultrasound tests. But then you may want to add things on. You could, for example, bolt on a cash benefit which will pay up if you are hospitalised overnight - this could be particularly useful for the self-employed. Or you could enhance some other options, such as increasing the amount that will be paid for therapy.
Self-employed businessmen and women who travel abroad can extend their policies to include overseas cover. And you could add on dental cover. As an added incentive, the self-employed may be offered a discount as they tend to claim less than employees.
Much cheaper than traditional health cover, these plans help customers make most of their NHS care. NHS Top-Up plans don´t actually insure you for private care. Instead, they make cash payments (with set limits) if you are admitted to an NHS hospital or need other treatment within the NHS. They will also make payments for optical, dental and physiotherapy. Some traditional medical insurance plans include elements of top-up plans in that they may make payments if you opt for NHS treatment.
With this type of plan you agree to pay a set percentage of any claim and as a result slice your premiums significantly. It works like this. You agree to pay up to a certain monetary limit each year - say, a limit of £1,000. Because you are sharing the costs with the health insurer, it pays a percentage of the claim - say, 75%, and you pay the remaining 25%. But if your claim is a large one and your 25% would come to more than the £1,000 you have agreed to pay, you won´t have to pay any amount on top of this - your costs will always be contained at £1,000 for that year. So, basically, when you´ve paid the excess the insurer will pick up all the bills after that.
View WPA´s Shared Responsibility explained
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