There is no doubt that the coronavirus has prompted many questions with regards to private health insurance and planned procedures. In reality, the situation is changing from day to day, and unfortunately, a number of procedures have been delayed. So, you are not alone in questioning how your private health insurance cover will be impacted by the coronavirus.
The ongoing collaboration between the UK government/NHS and private hospitals is unprecedented. Many private hospitals are working with the NHS to provide additional capacity often at cost value. This has had a knock-on effect to private health insurance customers and planned procedures.
However, slowly but surely, things are starting to return to normal with many procedures being rescheduled.
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In the event that you contract Covid-19, you may experience mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. There will be occasions where medical treatment is required for more serious cases.
Your first port of call should be the emergency services with all Covid-19 treatment under the NHS umbrella, whether in NHS facilities or additional capacity provided by private hospitals. Rest assured; you will receive the best treatment in the fight against any Covid-19 infection.
The coronavirus/Covid-19 has brought together the NHS and private hospital/insurance companies in a way in which we have never seen before. In recent weeks the main focus has been on tackling the Covid-19 pandemic with many people admitted to intensive care units.
Thankfully, the cumulative capacity of the NHS and private hospitals has helped to keep the situation “under control”, but there has been a cost to private health insurance customers.
In recent weeks we have seen a number of non-urgent and non-time-critical treatments rescheduled or cancelled. There is a general misconception that urgent treatment is also being postponed, but this is not the case.
Where treatment is time-critical, it will go ahead, but there may be a degree of rescheduled depending upon the availability of resources and consultants/surgeons.
In light of the government’s earlier advice, we have seen a significant increase in the number of virtual consultations. Many experts believe that this is a trend which will continue into the future as and when the Covid-19 pandemic is over.
In many ways, we are only now starting to appreciate the huge developments in technology which allow virtual consultations involving numerous parties. While not suitable for everyone, a virtual consultation at home with a consultant/specialist can save numerous hours of driving and missed work time.
It is only natural that some customers are questioning the value of private health insurance during the current Covid-19 pandemic. The reality is that private health insurance will become even more valuable in the future, especially if we see the re-emergence of Covid-19 or similar viruses going forward.
Even though non-urgent/non-time-critical treatments may be cancelled/postponed so-called “holding diagnostics” and pain relief treatments will become even more important.
Unfortunately, at this moment in time, the UK government, private hospitals and private health insurance companies are focused on bringing the Covid-19 pandemic under control. Once the situation is more “manageable”, and infection rates reduced, we will see an increase in capacity amongst private hospitals.
As a consequence of delays in some treatments, there is the possibility that patients could develop complications or other connected conditions. These will be treated as soon as possible and in many ways, further, emphasise the value of private health insurance, especially during the current environment.
There is obviously understandable frustration with regards to delays as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed many people may be thinking of cancelling their private health insurance perhaps feeling they have been short-changed in the short-term.
Unfortunately, the ongoing issues are out with the control of the insurance companies. If you decide to cancel your health insurance and potentially look to renew further down the line, there could be complications.
You may have developed a medical condition while previously covered or develop a new ailment during any break in cover. So, it is advisable to think carefully before cancelling your private health insurance.
In some cases, patients may have non-time-critical treatment paused during the Covid-19 pandemic, but time-critical treatment will continue in as orderly a manner as possible. There seems to be a general misconception that all medical procedures have been cancelled or delayed as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is not the case.
While many employees throughout the UK have been placed on furlough, the healthcare industry is classed as a key sector. As a consequence, whether employees are working from home or companies are providing limited service in the office, you will be able to keep track of your treatment schedule.
As you may have difficulty getting through on the telephone, it may be an idea to email your private health insurance provider/broker with any questions or queries you may have.
There is no doubt that there will be limits with regards to face-to-face consultations in the short to medium-term. Indeed, many health professionals may decide to introduce a greater element of virtual meetings into their schedule, going forwards.
There will be occasions where face-to-face meetings are required, where important issues need to be discussed, which may be difficult in a virtual environment. Once things “return to normal” you will be able to request a face-to-face meeting if you are not comfortable with the option of a virtual meeting.
While the traditional route is to visit your GP and then be referred to a private consultant, there is also an option to self-refer via your private health insurance company. In the current environment, you may experience delays unless it is obvious that the treatment is time-critical.
There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted all areas of personal and business life. All non-time-critical medical treatment has been delayed or cancelled, the UK government has taken up extra bed capacity within private hospitals, and the main focus is on fighting the pandemic.
That said all time-critical treatment will go ahead although there may be slight changes to your schedule. If you have any questions or queries regarding your private health insurance cover during the pandemic, it is advisable to contact your insurance provider direct.
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