There are so many ways of defining or looking at insurance but the different perspectives tend to converge on the point that it is a way of transferring the risk one would have incurred in the event of an unforeseen loss from one party to another usually in exchange for payment. It can also be described as a way of preparing to face a risk that can emerge as a result of a loss that was not foreseen.
Companies that sell the insurance policies are called insurers while an individual who buys the policy is called the insured, also known as policy holders. That sum of money that an individual is required to pay to get an insurance cover is called the premium. The conditions and circumstances that can lead to payment (known as compensation in insurance terms) in case off a loss are usually well spelled out in the insurance policy.
What is health insurance?
This a type of insurance where individuals transfer the risk of meeting medical expenses to another party , in this case a health insurance company , which undertakes to meet the incurred medical expenses. A medical insurance scheme covers a number of medical risks which include:
- Being dismembered
- Losses that result from accidents
- Accidental death
Health insurable risks vary from one insurer to another and from one geographical region to another. This is the reason why the above list of insurable risks is not, by any means, exhaustive. For instance, insurance firms in the USA have different policies from insurance firms in the UK.
Health insurance in the UK
In the UK, all citizens benefit directly from the free healthcare provided by NHS. However, there has been a general feeling or opinion that one is sure of getting extra support when necessary by taking a health insurance cover, also referred to as Private Medical Insurance). However, this kind of arrangement does not in any way substitute the service provided by NHS.
If one takes a health insurance cover in the UK, the cover caters for both in-patient and out-patient costs. However the issue of what is covered and what is not covered varies from one policy to another, making it advisable for any person planning to take a health insurance to shop wisely so as to be able to get the services they want.
Very few health insurance firms in the UK are willing to insure a person with any form of illness or injury sustained at a time before the policy was taken. Unless one is very careful, they may end up taking a cover that will not help solve their medical expense problems when they are taken ill.
In the UK ,Private Medical Insurance is of help since it stretches to cover what can be termed as major medical conditions that range from chemotherapy , diagnostic treatment ,radiotherapy , home-nursing ,discounts towards annual check-ups , physiotherapy and the provision of private ambulances. It also goes out of the way to provide cover for what is popularly known as ‘alternative medicine’ which includes the services of herbalists (this is one area that the NHS does not cover). This tremendously reduces the cost of ‘alternative treatment’.
Although it appears attractive to many people in the UK, the PMI does not cover, among others:
- Chronic or incurable conditions
- Pre-existing conditions before the cover
- Conditions for which a person is already receiving treatment
- Elective treatment (treatment which a person chooses to have), example plastic surgery.
If you are in the UK and you plan to take a health insurance policy, the most invaluable advice you should heed to is that you need to compare the various providers and choose the best for yourself.