Things to consider when searching for health insurance in the UK
Every single health insurance provider is unique. For example, BUPA provides a range of special offers just for holding a policy with them such as 2-4-1 theatre tickets, discount on prescription glasses and freebies when dining in selected restaurants*. Vitality, on the other hand, reward their members with points for partaking in healthy activities that give them access to exclusive discounts and freebies based on how many points they’ve earned*.
*All information has been taken directly from BUPA and Vitality and is correct as of 05/09/2019. Terms and conditions apply.
However, the differences between health insurance providers go beyond member rewards. The policy options available, the hospitals you can access and the treatments you’re eligible for can all vary depending on who your policy provider is. Some providers may be more suited to you than others, and it’s important to understand that you would need to compare every provider before knowing what your most competitive policy options are. This can be a lengthy and confusing process, so in terms of how to get health insurance in the UK, the first step is to know the different approaches you can take.
Where can I buy health insurance?
Ultimately, you’re faced with two options. You can either contact providers directly, relay your requirements and repeat the process until you’re able to compare the policies that have been offered to you. Alternatively, you can utilise the skills and knowledge of an independent health insurance broker who will handle this process for you.
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Directly through a health insurance provider
Health insurance providers are the companies that offer policies to people needing private health insurance. Regardless of whether you go through a broker, your policy is held with the provider. This means that treatment, claims and other related actions to do with your health insurance policy go directly through the health insurance provider. Bear the following in mind:
- Providers won’t compare the policies available to you across other providers; you’ll only receive quotes for that specific company. They’re not inclined to compare policies across the entire market, so you may not be receiving the most competitive one by purchasing through them.
- Agents that directly represent providers may not be authorised to offer advice or answer your questions. This may make it difficult to compare the options yourself or get all of the information you need. You should check if an advisor is authorised to offer you advice.
Through a health insurance broker or agent
A health insurance brokerage is a business that is licensed to offer health insurance policies on behalf of insurers. Some insurance brokers are independent and are able to offer policies from a variety of providers, whereas others may only represent a single company or work from a very limited panel.
We recommend that you contact an independent broker that works whole-of-market as they can offer you an unbiased review and recommendation. Independent brokers aren’t associated with one provider more than another, so any advice you receive should be honest and with your best interests at heart. Health insurance brokers are obliged to let you know if there are any insurance companies they don’t work with, so make sure you ask them this and consider the following when looking at your options:
- Brokers can save you the time of comparing options across providers as they do this themselves. Because they do this on a daily basis, they should know what to look out for in respect to your individual requirements.
- It’s sometimes a completely free service, meaning that you can get an independent broker to compare the policies available to you without incurring an additional cost. Just to note, Equity Health’s service is entirely free for anyone looking for health insurance.
- Brokers may have access to unique policy offerings that are only available through the intermediary market. You may not even have the option to buy it directly from the insurer.
- Their job is to find you the most competitive policy for your needs. Brokers have extensive knowledge of the pros and cons of different providers, and who might be the best fit for you.
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Can you receive private treatment without a policy?
If you’re solely looking for access to private healthcare, you have the option to purchase this without a health insurance policy. We’ve covered everything you should consider if you’re looking to make this decision in our How much does private health care cost blog, such as how much you can expect to pay, and why or why not this may not be the best decision for you.
However, just bear in mind that you may find it more beneficial to access the private treatment you need through a health insurance policy instead.
What information to prepare when looking for health insurance
Now that you know how to get health insurance and the different routes that you can take, here are some key considerations and things to prepare when you’re ready to take action.
- The type of cover you need - individual, group, family, small business, corporate, continuation of work etc.
- Medical history - have information regarding your medical history on hand as this can affect the underwriting and policies available to you.
- Past health insurance - if you have previously purchased a health insurance policy, make this known, as a provider or insurance broker may need to take this into account.
- Hospital access - are there any particular hospitals you’d like access to as part of your health insurance policy?
- Additional cover - do you need access to treatment such as dental or complementary therapies such as physiotherapy? This may increase your policy premium.
- Your target premium - if you have a monthly or annual premium in mind, make this known as it will help to guide the comparison process.
- Excess allowance - how much excess you’d be prepared to pay in the event of claiming on your health insurance policy.
- Provider preference - if there are any providers that you’re more drawn towards, share the reasons why. Even if the said provider isn’t the most competitive policy in terms of premium, other benefits may be worth more to you than the saving.
- Prepare questions - if you have any questions or need to confirm a few things about what a health insurance policy can offer you, have these ready to ask.
Compare to receive your best health insurance options
Although we’ve reiterated throughout this blog that you should compare the policies available to you, it wouldn’t be a complete guide on how to get health insurance without an explanation of why.
Many factors are taken into account for an individual, group or family looking for health insurance. All of these details can have a large impact on whether a provider has a policy for you, how much they’d be willing to cover you for, and what restrictions might be in place. Health insurance providers assign different weightings to these details and, while you may look like an attractive prospect to one, another may not have a competitive policy available for you.
To receive a true comparison, you need information from a broad range of providers, all of which have been given the same information about your requirements. Not only could this prove time-consuming, but it also relies on you knowing what questions to ask and what to compare.
How we can help you find the best health insurance policy for you
As independent health insurance brokers with access to some of the leading UK providers, we provide a free whole-of-market review of the policies available to you. We’ll get to know you, your requirements and ask any questions we need to ensure you’re getting the most competitive policy for your needs. Even if you’d just like some unbiased advice, we’d be happy to help.
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