Self Employed Health Insurance
Protecting your health...
What does Self Employed
Private Medical Insurance pays for healthcare treatment in private medical facilities. The scope of the cover provided can vary considerably depending on the options selected.
Most plans will cover inpatient and day patient treatment in full which means that you would be covered for treatment, testing and consultations where a hospital bed is required either overnight or just for the day.
In order to be covered for initial consultations and diagnostic testing where a hospital bed is not required a level of outpatient cover is recommended to avoid NHS outpatient waiting lists.
The level of cover and type of treatment required will determine the exact process but the main variation depends on whether the policy includes outpatient cover.
No Outpatient Cover
With Outpatient Cover
Holding a policy without outpatient cover means that you run the risk of having to go through the NHS outpatient waiting list for diagnostic testing and initial consultations.
Do I need
Although the National Health Service (NHS) does a brilliant job with limited resources, millions of people in the UK have decided they would rather be treated privately.
Should I go private?
Those with private healthcare cover benefit from speedier diagnosis and treatment, the highest quality care, lower infection risks, private rooms with internet access and round the clock visiting times.
Health Insurance is particularly popular with both company directors and soletraders who need to return to work as quickly as possible and often cannot afford to wait for treatment on the NHS, especially as the self-employed do not receive sick pay.
1. Choose the level of Outpatient CoverAlthough the level of outpatient cover makes a sizable difference to the premiums it does ensure that initial consultations and testing can be done privately.
2. Cancer CoverA popular option is to upgrade the policy so there is no time limit for the provision of biological cancer drugs (some plans have a standard limit of 12 months).
3. Psychiatric CoverAlthough some plans include a base level of psychiatric cover it is more common for this to be a policy upgrade most insurers, especially for outpatient treatment.
Whether you decide to take out a basic plan or the most comprehensive policy, all health insurance options for the self employed provide full cover for inpatient healthcare. An inpatient is someone who requires an overnight stay in hospital and all medical plans will cover the full cost of tests, scans, consultations and treatments where is this the case.
The more comprehensive the cover you decide upon the greater the level of outpatient cover and additional benefits, including the likes of physiotherapy, psychiatric cover and overseas cover.
Important to remember
Please note health insurance is not a replacement for the NHS, health insurance is designed to work in tandem with the NHS. Admissions to Accident and Emergency, GP services and the treatment of chronic conditions still tend to be provided by the NHS.
With potentially sizable NHS waiting lists most businessmen and women need to receive treatment much faster than these waiting lists will tend to allow as the success of their business depends on their ability to continue working. A self-employed health plan gives you the option of receiving treatment when it suits you best, and not when the NHS can fit you in.
NHS Waiting Lists
Source: Department for Health Commissioner based statistics for England, January 2010.
In January 2010, Department for Health Commissioner based statistics showed that over 133,000 people in England had been waiting for inpatient treatment on the NHS for at least 10 weeks.
These same statistics showed that over 21,000 people had been waiting 10 weeks or longer for outpatient treatment. The simple reality is that most business people cannot afford to spend this long away from their business waiting for diagnosis and treatment.
A large number of employers will provide private medical insurance to their staff to reduce the length of time they are away from work should they suffer an illness or injury.
Being self-employed you do not have the benefit of employer provided health cover but the personal insurance market is ideally placed to provide you with the cover most appropriate to you and your working situation.
Let's not beat around the bush, working for yourself is no walk in the park and for the vast majority it means watching the pennies. We all should keep a close eye on our finances however it is even more important for those going it alone.
You'll be pleased to know their are many options available in the health plan market to suit all budgets, whether it is reduced outpatient benefits or adding an excess there are options available to help you stick to your budget.
The waters can be murky so our experts are on hand to ensure you understand all the options available and help you choose the most suitable policy within your budget. Whether it is adding an excess, changing the hospital list or limiting the outpatient cover we are here to offer our expert advice.
Although all self employed health care plans provide full cover for inpatient treatment, individuals may wish to take out a comprehensive plan and include cover for a number of additional benefits which may be of particular relevance.
The main difference between basic, mid-range and comprehensive health plans relates to the amount of outpatient cover and additional benefits provided. An outpatient is someone who does not require a hospital bed or an overnight stay.
Generally, with the exception of scans and radiotherapy & chemotherapy, outpatient healthcare is only covered by more comprehensive plans. If you would like specialist consultations and more advanced diagnostic tests to be covered as an outpatient you should select a comprehensive plan.
One of the main benefits of private medical insurance relates to the speed of which diagnosis and treatment can be undertaken. Taking out a comprehensive plan means that cover would be provided for tests, scans, consultations and treatments as an outpatient.
Including this cover would therefore allow you to gain the necessary outpatient healthcare quickly and at a time most suitable to you and your business schedule.
Physiotherapy & alternative medicines
Working long hours in front of a computer or in a manual related workplace can be very stressful on the body, especially the back and neck. Including physiotherapy and alternative medicines (particularly osteopathy) can help to correct these medical conditions and allow you to continue working at the same intensity.
If you have to wait longer than six weeks then you would go private straight away. The six week wait option is therefore a useful method of gaining affordable health insurance and avoiding potentially long NHS waiting lists.
If you spend time working overseas you may wish to include overseas emergency medical cover in case something happens to your health whilst abroad.
The addition of this option would also cover your repatriation to the UK for further medical treatment should that be needed.
There are so many things to consider when moving to self employment, your health and financial protection being just one.
The citizens advice bureau has compiled a really useful self-employment checklist for those considering self employment.
02/11/2014 M Dorais
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