Using your insurance FAQs
If you haven’t used your private medical insurance before, you may have a few questions about what to do and how to go about things. We got the experts at Ramsay Health Care to answer some of the most common questions they come across from patients.
Q: Shouldn't I put off using my insurance until I really need it?
A: Who can say when that will be? One thing is for certain – there’s no point in living with pain or worry when you have easy access to the very best care available. Even if you think it’s just something minor, it’s always better to get it checked out. And with private medical insurance, you can do that at a time and place that’s convenient to you.
Q: Isn't making a claim time-consuming?
A: Whilst this may have been the case in the past, these days insurance providers know they need to provide a straightforward service to remain competitive. More often than not, a phone call or email is all it takes to activate your policy. And at all times, you have our team of experts on hand to help. In fact, Ramsay hospitals operate a direct link with many insurers including Bupa, AXA PPP, Aviva Health, Vitality Health, CIGNA, WPA, Benenden, Healix and The Exeter, which enables documents to be conveniently sent online.
Q: Can't I get the same treatment on the NHS?
A: Although the NHS provides a superb service, waiting times will be longer than going private. This could leave you in pain or in a state of worry for longer than you might like. With private medical insurance you can arrange an appointment and treatment at a time and place that’s convenient for you with a senior specialist who will provide expert care and advice.
Q: Will the cost of my insurance increase if I make a claim?
A: If you have private medical insurance through work, making a claim may well not affect your premiums. For self-funding patients, it simply depends on the type of policy you have, as premiums may well increase anyway in line with your age and health. Even if costs do go up, isn’t it worth it to gain access to quality treatment that you’ve paid for and are entitled to?
Q: I have a “No Claims Discount” on my policy. Will I lose that if I make a claim?
A: Again, it depends upon the specifics of your particular policy. However there is nothing more important than your health and we would not recommend deliberately avoiding making a claim simply to retain a No Claims Discount.
Q: Does my GP or insurer choose my hospital?
A: Ramsay Health Care operates one of the UK’s largest networks of private hospitals, so chances are you can choose a location near you. When you see your GP, remember to tell them you have private medical insurance and that you’d like to be treated at your local Ramsay hospital. On some rare occasions an insurer may not include your local Ramsay Health Care in their hospital network. If this is the case – and you’re offered an alternative that isn’t local or convenient for you – then might be able to insist on being treated at the Ramsay hospital of your choice.
Q: What if my policy operates on Open Referral?
A: Open Referral is where your insurer provides a pre-selected list of Consultants and/or hospitals to choose from according to your treatment needs. If one of our Consultants or Hospitals isn’t included on the list – and you’re not happy with the alternative offered – you can still ask to be treated by Ramsay Health Care.
Q: Am I going to be stung with a big excess on my policy?
A: Whilst policies vary from provider to provider, many will charge an excess of £100 to £1000. For some insurers, a single excess payment will cover you over a 12 month period, regardless of how many times you use your policy. Others, however, will charge an excess on a per claim basis, which could result in multiple payments. Unfortunately there is no general answer and so you will need to check the details of your own specific policy – your insurer will be able to advise you about this if you have any questions. However, when you think about the peace of mind, convenience and high levels of care private treatment delivers, it’s a cost well worth considering.
Q: Are all treatments covered by PMI?
A: Naturally this depends on your individual policy and the level of cover you’ve taken out – but you may be surprised just how much you’re actually entitled to claim for. Most PMI policies cover consultations, diagnostic tests and physiotherapy, as well as far more complex operations such as spinal surgery and hip replacements. Treatment for cancer is often provided on policies too. The golden rule is always to check with your insurance provider after seeing your GP and before starting a course of treatment.
Q: Are pre-existing conditions covered by PMI?
A: Increasingly, many policies do cover you for medical conditions you’ve been treated for in the past, especially corporate schemes. There are, however, some policies which won’t cover you for any illness, disease or injury in the 5 years before your policy starts (this is what is known as an underwriting “Moratorium”). As always, we recommend you check your individual policy to see what’s what. If you have any specific concerns or symptoms, it’s best to talk to the insurance company prior to taking out your policy.
Q: Do private hospitals have the depth of expertise needed for specialist treatment?
A: Ramsay Health Care is one of the world’s largest health care provide and offers expert treatment in over 80 specialist areas from cancer care to cardiology, orthopaedics, psychotherapy and beyond. Many of the world’s leading consultants and surgeons choose to work for us – including those who also work for the NHS. Our commitment to providing the very best and latest healthcare technology ensures we constantly attract the best medical talent to our team.
Q: Who can I talk to if I have any more questions?
A: We’re always here to help and you can get in touch by contacting us on 01206 752121.