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What is Private Health Insurance?

signing up for private health insurance

Private health insurance is essentially money that you pay in order to have your medical bills covered. Depending on where in the world you live, private health insurance can be very different. Let’s take a look at the situation in the USA and the situation in the UK.

Private Health Insurance USA
Healthcare is expensive, regardless of where you live. Only very few people would be able to pay for the cost of their healthcare if they actually have to pay for it themselves. This is why health insurance is so important, since it allows you to get the treatment you require without having to go bankrupt as a consequences.

In the USA, the majority of people either have their own health insurance, or they can take part in a public program. Some of the best known of these include Medicaid and Medicare. However, there are also many Americans who have no insurance whatsoever, either due to financial situations or because they already have a pre-existing medical condition. This is why President Obama introduced the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The ACA is designed to make sure every individual American has some form of health insurance. It also includes a range of new protections and rights. Some of these have been implemented, but others will be coming into place over the next few years. Every state now has a Health Insurance Marketplace, where residents can sign up for insurance starting from the 1st of January 2014. People are able to compare the various insurance plans and pick the one that is most suited to them. Here’s a comprehensive list of key points of the healthcare reform bill.

Medicaid will continue to exist, including the Basic Health Program, but this is only available for people who are on a low income, or those who have disabilities. Within Medicaid, people are covered for doctors and hospital visits, prescriptions, vaccinations, hearing, vision, long-term care and children’s preventative care.

Then, there is Medicare. This is available for those over the age of 65, or those younger with certain disabilities, including does with end-stage renal. This pays mainly for hospital and skilled nursing care. But you can get on the official website, in detail, what Medicare covers.

People who are not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid must have some form of private health insurance, which they can now compare through their state. Private health insurance coverage will vary depending on the plan and provider people choose. More often than not, this is also provided through an employer.

Private Health Insurance UK
The UK is very different. Because the NHS – National Health Service – operates here (until the current government privatizes it), people always have access to health care and only have to pay for prescriptions, vision, hearing and dental care if they are employed and not in receipt of certain benefits. As a result, only very few people actually have private health insurance, because they feel private health insurance cost does not justify what is received in return.

However, opting for private health insurance gives people far more flexibility and choice, as well as being able to access certain services much quicker. Plus, the standards of private hospitals are usually far higher. One example of a well-known private health insurance provider in the UK is Aviva.

By choosing this, people access a range of benefits, including:
• When they receive treatment, which is usually quicker than in NHS hospitals and you have a choice of appointments, rather than simply being given one.
• Where you will receive treatment, which is generally in a private hospital, where patients receive their own room with en-suite facilities.
• Who will provide the treatment, as patients are able to select their own specialists and consultants.
• How the treatment will be administered, including having certain drugs and treatments that are not available on the NHS.

Because all people have health insurance in the UK anyway, comparing private health insurance is something that people must do of their own accord, rather than receiving any form of state support for this.

Furthermore, people have the option to use private health insurance for a one-off service. For instance, if they know that they need a certain type of treatment for the next few months, they could sign up to private health insurance solely for the duration of that treatment.

Another big difference is that private health insurance is mainly provided for diagnosis and intensive treatment, such as operations and after care. It generally does not cover GP appointments, A&E incidents or treatment of life-long conditions such as diabetes.

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