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Private medical insurance

Monday 2nd September 2019

Private medical insurance (PMI) should be a crucial part of your long-term retirement strategy – because good health is the ultimate investment.

You might be close to retirement or perhaps still a couple of decades away but, whatever stage you’re at, the best time to start planning your retirement is now – and considering your health as you age is an important part of that picture.

To help you, we are working closely with Independent Health Care Solutions (IHCS). We chose them as they are a specialist medical insurance broker that aims to provide unbiased advice, jargon-free guidance and ongoing support throughout the policy year.

IHCS share our core values and our joint aim is to ensure that you have all the information you need to make informed decisions regarding your retirement planning.

Do you need private medical insurance when you retire?

It’s well publicised that the NHS is under ever-growing pressure and financial constraints. PMI allows you to circumvent the NHS for non-emergency medical conditions and offers the potential for a wider variety of hospitals, practitioners and treatment options.

A general misconception is that private healthcare insurance is very expensive and that it will not cover pre-existing medical conditions – this is not the case. The fundamental benefit of a private healthcare policy is that it offers you choices you would not otherwise have.

What are those choices?

As a typical retiree, you will normally be faced with one of two options:

  • Do I proceed with a group scheme leaver’s policy?
  • Should I self-fund my medical needs?

Perhaps you’ve been enjoying the benefit of a company-paid healthcare insurance policy and may never have thought about your health after you stop working. Or you might be reluctant to lose the assurance that such a policy provides.

IHCS can provide group scheme leaver options designed to protect your current level of cover and your pre-existing medical conditions with your current insurer. Subject to your medical history, IHCS can also provide you with options from the wider market that will still cover your pre-existing conditions.

How you proceed is individual to your specific requirements. As part of the service offered by IHCS they will be able to help you explore the pros and cons of each option to find the solution that’s right for you.

What about a cancer diagnosis?

Cancer care, treatment options and waiting times are of paramount concern for everybody particularly as we get older. The NHS aims to offer a cancer specialist referral within two weeks. Unfortunately, this is not guaranteed and doesn’t account for the required diagnostic tests.

Even the most basic PMI policy will offer the following for less than £90 per month:

  • Rapid access to a consultant
  • Diagnostic tests within days
  • Access to drugs not guaranteed to be available on the NHS

Number-crunching: PMI versus NHS

If you are a 60 year old living in central London you can expect to pay around £90 per month for a Core Cover policy with AXA PPP offering the following benefits:

  • Full in-patient and day-patient cover
  • Full cancer care – including drugs/diagnostics/reconstructive surgery
  • Full London hospital access with fast-track appointment services
  • £500 annual excess with new moratorium underwriting

The benefit of a PMI policy becomes evident when you compare this with the cost of private, self-funded care. Below are two common conditions, often occurring during retirement and both of which can be treated within a matter of weeks within the Core Cover premium of £90 per month:

Full knee replacement

  • London NHS treatment time average of 21.3 weeks*
  • London private treatment cost average £10,468*

Cataract operation                 

  • London NHS treatment time average 18.6 weeks*
  • London private treatment cost average per eye £2,225*

A simple policy, based on Core Cover only, will cover in-patient and day-patient treatment and cancer treatment costs in full (subject to underwriting).

We recommend that PMI always forms part of your retirement planning. You won’t lose access to the NHS and the benefits that PMI offers are reassurance and peace of mind should you ever need to use it.

*sources LaingBuisson International Limited & NHS direct