Confusion over private medical insurance

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MORE than 500,000 people who have taken out private medical insurance may fundamentally misunderstand their entitlements, says one of the market leaders, Private Patients Plan, writes Neasa MacErlean.

In a survey of its policyholders PPP found that 52 per cent of people on lower-cost schemes underestimated their rights to demand immediate treatment.

They believed, falsely, that they would have to wait six weeks for private treatment even if the National Health Service could not treat them over that period. However, if the NHS cannot act during this time policyholders can make an immediate claim.

The six-week restriction comes into force only if the patient also has the option of NHS treatment. About a million people, a third of the total market, are estimated to have taken out lower-cost plans under the six-week rule.

PPP believes many people are waiting unnecessarily for treatment. A spokesman said: 'It might be putting people off joining in the first place.'

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