Beginner's guide to: Healthcare cash plans

What are they?

The basic model for a cash plan is that you pay a monthly premium and if you need to pay for everyday healthcare costs, the company will give you a one-off lump sum up to a pre-determined maximum. Depending on the level of cover you chose, the plans cover everything from dental to eye care to osteopathy, as well as the cost of a stay in hospital. You can choose to cover a specific treatment, like eye care, or take a more comprehensive package for a range of treatments. You may be offered added benefits such as accidental death cover.

How much does it cost?

It depends on the treatments you want to cover, and how many members of the family you want to include on your policy. A dental-only plan, say, giving you a certain amount towards the cost of dental bills, will be cheaper than a plan covering a large range of medical bills. A single adult can be covered for under £10 a month for a basic policy covering about £100 of costs. Adding a partner usually doubles the basic cost, although putting a child on the plan is often free. For a more comprehensive package, expect to pay £35-£50 per month.

How does it fit in with other protection plans?

Having a cash plan will not affect the benefits you get from critical illness or life insurance policies, as these pay out regardless of what you're getting elsewhere. Nor should the lump sum you receive if you claim from an income protection or accident, sickness and unemployment policy be affected by the one-off sum a cashback plan would give you.

Where can I get it?

You can go directly to any of the number of providers who offer cash plans, including WPA (www.wpa.org.uk), Healthsure ( www.healthsure.co.uk) and HSA ( www.hsa.co.uk). You may have an employee scheme through, for example, AXA PPP Healthcare. If you're interested in one of these plans, check with your employer before forking out extra money for a benefit you may get through work.

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