The smartest ways to access private healthcare

Employee benefits are often neglected in UK small businesses, but studies show offering private healthcare is important for staff.

Many people in the UK think that private healthcare is not affordable or accessible. With less than 10% of UK citizens using private health insurance, the majority are happy to use NHS healthcare which is either free or a fraction of the price.

The only issue is that with the NHS comes long waiting lists and sometimes it can take weeks to get an appointment for something that is causing you pain. Similarly, you are placed with a clinic or consultant that is not necessarily close to you and this can be a real inconvenience.

However, there are some very smart ways to get access to private care which can help you get seen quicker and the consultant of your choice.

Health cash plans

A health cash plans starts from as little as £6 per month and it works by taking the total you spend and being able to use 6 times the amount towards the cover of your choice.

It is commonly used for appointments and outpatient treatments likes dentists, optometrists and physiotherapists. But rather than having to wait several weeks for a sore neck or wisdom tooth to be treated, you can book privately and see a specialist on the same day. (Source: MediCompare)

There is no medical examination required so you can apply with an insurer directly and get started. This option is considerably more affordable than a full health insurance policy which costs up to £1,000 per year and with health cash plans, some policies will even offer bonuses such as cashback.

You start by paying for the treatment yourself, you keep the receipt and then claim back from your insurer. Therefore, it is worth checking with your insurer if the medical practitioner is covered on their books before going for treatment. This ensures that you will be able to claim back effectively.

Group cover

There are group policies available that allow you to pull together with family, friends or colleagues. It is a like multi car insurance but for healthcare. Not only do you split the bill and get a group discount but it is just a more efficient way to pay for private healthcare. Several policies also include small children or infants too, free of charge.

Business health insurance

With around ten main health insurers in the country including Bupa and Vitality, they all tend to offer specialist policies for businesses. For companies, there are a lot of advantages of offering health cover to their employees.

For instance, a healthier workforce is likely to lead to a happier workforce. Being able to miss NHS queues and get quick access to treatment means that they will spend less time at appointments and can be more productive at work. Staff are also likely to be more loyal and stay longer with their employer if they have good perks in place and feel that the company respects their wellbeing.

In addition, there are tax breaks available for companies that purchase business healthcare, which can make it an even better investment.

If you do not have healthcare already from work, it is worth bringing up at your next appraisal or requesting it from your employer. If you can show how it will save you and the company money, there is a good business case to proceed.

Quit smoking and join a gym

Lastly, if you think that private healthcare is too expensive, you can dramatically reduce the cost of your policy by quitting smoking and joining a gym. By adopting a healthier lifestyle, it means that you reduce your risk of disease and illness and the insurer will likely reward you with a lower premium.

You can also consider paying a higher voluntary excess – which will also reduce your fees because it means that you are willing to fit more of the bill if you need to make a claim. There are also benefits of comparing the costs from different insurers and seeing if there are any introductory offers available for you and your family.

Further reading on private healthcare

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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