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Is There Any Cheap Health Insurance?

Sep 9, 2008
While Britain's National Health Service is fairly unique compared to some other countries in that it offers free healthcare, more and more people have been turning to some form of private health insurance either to replace or to supplement the publicly provided services.

And as the numbers have grown, different levels of cover have been developed so that there is a medical insurance plan to suit most pockets and this, of course, includes cheap health insurance.

In the past, the major barrier to a greater take-up of private health provision lay in its relatively high cost. Because demand continued to grow apace, however, insurers have developed alternatives to traditionally quite expensive comprehensive private medical insurance plans, that sought to provide cover for the whole range of acute conditions, treatments, surgery and hospitalisation.

The alternatives today, therefore, provide access to private health insurance for a much wider section of the population, from fully comprehensive cover to relatively cheap cover. The different levels of cover available now, therefore, include "mid range" schemes and budget plans that offer cheaper types of health insurance.

Hospital cash plans are a form of medical insurance that takes care of everyday medical costs. Many will pay for dental or optical treatment up to a set limit every year; physiotherapy; specialist consultations etc. Many now also will cover the cost of so-called 'alternative' treatments such as acupuncture. These types of plans are often known as 'budget' plans.

The range of schemes also includes forms of specialist insurance, which is limited to cancer and heart conditions, and is therefore cheaper than fully comprehensive cover. All forms of health insurance are designed to work alongside the NHS (which continues to handle all responses to accident and emergencies, for example) and this is also reflected in the ability of insurers to offer policies with generous no claims discounts. If the policy holder chooses to make no claim on the private health plan and instead opts to use the NHS, then a discount on the private health insurance premiums can be earned.

Similar reasoning lies behind the option offered by many health insurers for policy holders to wait for a certain period (typically six weeks) to see if the treatment they need will be available within that time on the NHS. Only if it is not, will the health insurance need to kick in with private treatment.

Another way in which cheap health insurance can be provided is by the policy holder sharing some of the risks and costs of health care by opting to pay a reasonably high excess. If this is set at a rate of 1,000 or 2,000, for example, then the health insurance can be reserved for just the more serious and expensive procedures, surgery and medical care.

That concept of the policy holder sharing in the responsibility for their own health is also reflected in the health insurance discounts available to those who opt to lead a healthier lifestyle.

In summary, therefore, cheap health insurance has been developed to give almost every section of the population an opportunity to share in the benefits of private medical insurance.
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Confused.com is one of the UK's biggest and most popular price comparison services. Confused.com helps consumers save money on everything from health insurance to mortgages.
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