Health Insurance: FAQs

Q: What is the National Health Service?

A: The NHS (National Health Service) was first used in 1948 and it provides free healthcare for all UK citizens regardless of thier age, occupation or the ability to pay. The NHS is funded by the taxpayer and managed by the Department of Health.

Q: How many people have private medical insurance?

A: According to statistics in 2007, around twelve and a half percent of the UK population now has a private medical insurance policy and this number is on the increase. These figures also showed over two and a half million people in the UK have a private health care policy provided direct by their employer.

Q: What is Private Medical Insurance?

A: Private medical insurance (PMI) is medical insurance policy designed to provide a private healthcare treatment to its policy holders. This policy allows those covered to avoid the sometimes long NHS waiting lists and secure medical treatment as quickly as possible. PMI generally covers those conditions that are acute and treatable.

Q: Do health insurance companies exclude some people?

A: Unfortunately and as most would expect, almost all medical insurance policies include a list of illnesses and conditions that they automatically will not cover. These include pregnancy, drug abuse, infertility, GP fees, medical prescriptions, dentistry, abuse with alcohol, AIDS, chronic diseases such as asthma or diabetes, cosmetic surgery and a number of other diseases depending on the insurer. Any illness suffered by an individual or their family members prior to commencing their health insurance policy is known as a pre-existing condition. Insurance companies usually exclude pre-existing medical conditions permanently or for a set period after the policy starts similar to how a travel insurance company would do.

Q: How do private medical insurance companies decide which people to exclude?

A: Private medical insurance companies assess each individual insurance application using an ‘underwriting’ process. The company reviews each case and decides whether to accept or reject the application.

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