Private Health Insurance: Should I Continue To Afford The Premiums?

My renewal papers arrived for my private health insurance. Next year’s premium is £1535.38 or £127.94 a month, up from £116.95. Either is a gulp-inducing sum of money. I’ve been paying the premiums for probably the best part of a decade and never made a claim, so much so that I seem to have attracted something called Low Claims Bonus. I don’t have a GP and haven’t consulted a doctor since 1987. Do I need to continue to pay this insurance?

I’m not one for the small print and if ever there was something where the small print needed reading it is this, private health insurance policies. So, what to do? I felt I needed some advice and opinions so I asked my peer group on the Money-Making Magic Google Group and the replies were many and various, personal, opinionated and political and all of them useful in my own decision-making process. A clear theme emerged for me and I think I am close to cancelling the policy, choosing instead to self-insure. Another close run thing would be to shop around with several votes of confidence coming in for WPA in particular.

Here is one helpful response which I have Niki’s permission to share. It seems to summarise the issue nicely and I thought it was also some very nice writing:

“Insurance is very much a “fear factor” industry and as a well woman, risk taker and “everything happens for a reason” thinker, insurance that’s not required by law kind of goes against the grain.

It also sounds like you’ve pretty much decided and I absolutely agree with S that “the best healthcare insurance one can have is reliable friends or family members who can fight your corner for you when you can’t whether you are in private or NHS care.”

One of the annoying things about insurance is the small print and if they are being difficult when one needs to make a claim. I had a friend whose 12 year old daughter’s terminal cancer got a total pay out of £700 (circa 2002) which she was disgusted about and that story has put me off that particular health insurance company ever since.

But my experience with private healthcare means that if I still had young children, I would be inclined to get cover as I see it as a luxuriously cosy security blanket that I like to keep reassuringly on the shelf and expect never to use. Private Health cover is also one of those things that makes me “feel wealthy”, like paying someone else to clean my house and fresh, crisp Egyptian cotton sheets rather than bog standard ones that do the job equally well.

When we could afford it, we had private healthcare for years with WPA and, for people inclined, I would heartily recommend them. The last premium we paid was in 2008 (I think) and just under £1,000 for the year’s coverage for 2 adults & 2 children. It had not gone up significantly despite claiming heavily on it for many years. We had their flexible option which included them making part payments for “alternative” treatments like physio, useful when my back went one day doing the hoovering.

We had the NHS option where we could choose whether to be treated privately or NHS. If we decided to have NHS care, we received £100 per night spent in an NHS hospital and, for certain day treatments, to a maximum of £3,000 per person per annum which they paid (with proof but without question) for about 5 years on the trot for my daughter. The rate wasn’t reduced because she was a child and although the rules officially changed for chronic conditions, when I rang to let them know K’s condition had been diagnosed as chronic, they said not to worry, keep putting in the claims and they’d let me know if /when they deemed it to be chronic, which they never did so we continued to have full claim entitlement.

I found the £100 NHS benefit really useful as it helps towards loss of earnings and those unexpected extras like taxis, loads of phone calls, mobile broadband and eating on the go. When a friend broke her wrist awkwardly from slipping on the ice some years ago & needed various operations, she couldn’t stand the hospital food so would have pizza delivered to her NHS bed.

Private Healthcare when done well, tickled my luxury bone and calmed my niggles as luxury to me is about things that make life smoother, easier and more comfy. It gave me one easy thing to be grateful for in the bleak times when we needed to claim and a fabulous thing to be grateful for when we didn’t need to claim.

All this (with discipline) one could probably achieve just as well by building a “premium pot” as you suggest, with your premiums going into a savings account instead. That way you have control over it, not needing proof before allocation and earning interest on it; sounding more and more attractive.

Apart from the obvious risks – being undisciplined about paying in, dipping into funds for other purposes and the pot not being big enough at/if time of need, all of which seem fairly low risk in your case – are there any “hidden” elements of significance to take into account? Nothing springs to mind.”

Niki Duffy
Linkedin.com/NikiDuffy

 

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3 Responses to “Private Health Insurance: Should I Continue To Afford The Premiums?”

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  1. Neal Gaskell says:

    Hello Judith
    I read with interest you comments regarding private healthcare, you may have resolved this issue but should you require a quotation please let me know. WPA never increase premiums due to any claims made and are a not- for -profit association, we exist not for shareholders but to pay the medical costs of our members. Whilst I understand your idea on ”self funding’ please keep in mind the huge cost of drugs to treat serious conditions. Finally, sure you’ll agree the best insurance is that you don’t claim on because you don’t need to but always have that peace of mind if needed.

    Regards
    Neal Gaskell

  2. Judith Morgan says:

    Not yet, but you are the third person to recommend it. Had I not already made up my mind to self-insure, I would definitely be going to WPA for a quote. Thanks!

  3. Tone says:

    Hi Judith

    Have you contacted WPA for a quote? They offer extra discounts for the self-employed, might be worth comparing them against your renewal before opting to not have any cover at all.

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