Health groups target young

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The Independent Online
PRIVATE health insurance is not a top priority for most students, writes Sue Fieldman.

However, Private Patients Plan, the second largest health insurer, is undeterred. It has just launched PPP Student Plan, no doubt designed to appeal to parents rather than their impoverished offspring.

The student cover is based on PPP's Value Plan, a six-week wait policy that covers you for immediate private care if you cannot get NHS treatment within six weeks.

The policy is available to all those in full-time education up to the age of 29. Students get a preferential premium rate, currently pounds 50 a year, which is a hefty reduction on the rate for a non-student of the same age.

Bupa also has a student scheme. It offers wider cover than PPP, and is correspondingly more expensive at pounds 229 a year. The Bupa plan is available to students aged up to 25.

WPA moves a step nearer the cradle with the launch next week of a children's private health insurance. But the policy, available to children under 17, will have a lengthy 12-week NHS wait deferral. If a child is treated in an NHS hospital, the parent gets pounds 40 a night cash benefit. The policy also has pounds 5,000 dental cover. The premium is pounds 35 a year.

Norwich Union offers its budget PersonalCare policy - in-patient cover only - to children up to 16 for pounds 5.45 a month. Those aged 17 to 19 pay pounds 9.85, and those between 20 and 39 have to pay pounds 13.15.

Stand-alone policies for children and students make sense if a family cannot afford to insure every member. But if the family already has private health cover, it could be cheaper to insure them as dependants on the existing policy.

Some insurers are far more generous than others and regard children as dependants far beyond the usual age of majority. You get a dependant rate with Bupa only until a child is 18; with PPP it is 21. WPA varies between the two ages depending on the policy. OHRA is extremely broad-minded and has 'children' up to the age of 26.