Private medical insurance begins to shed its exclusive tag

PRIVATE HEALTH; A SPECIAL REPORT

Private medical insurance is the third most valued company perk, after a pension and a car. But the number of people buying it for themselves is steadily growing.

Almost seven million people, about 12 per cent of the population, are now covered, with a third of the cover provided by employers. This is set to expand to 16 per cent of the population by the end of the century, according to City analysts Laing & Buisson.

However the cost of PMI is also rising, by more than the rate of inflation. Last year the average price went up by nearly 6 per cent, which was mostly due to increased claims rather than hospital or specialists' fees.

The exclusive image of private health care is slowly being undermined, with younger people less likely to put up with playing political roulette with their health. With more people worried about the downgrading of the NHS, insurers have introduced a wide variety of options. Budget cover, particularly, is becoming more popular. The plans on offer range from budget policies which only pay out if the NHS waiting list is longer than six weeks through standard plans to top-of-the-range schemes.

The latter give a full refund for most treatments, including accommodation, complex surgery, psychiatric and pregnancy cover. Many insurers also offer three or four different bands of cover, usually ranked A to D. The A bed is equivalent to a four or five star hotel, where D is often a pay bed in an NHS hospital. Other insurers base their premiums on your postcode. So anyone living in central London or Edinburgh is likely to pay a higher rate, whereas people who live closer to the smaller regional hospitals would be charged at lower rates. All the insurers are keen to stress that the difference in rates in no way affects the quality of treatment on offer.

One disadvantage of PMI is that it usually excludes existing medical conditions. Pregnancy and dental care are also areas where it is important to study the small print. Generally pregnancy is covered only by the most expensive plans and dental treatment only if an overnight stay in hospital is required.

Another factor which affects the cost of cover is whether or not out- patient cover is included. Without this the cost is reduced dramatically. But remember that PMI is only for the treatment of acute conditions, or in other words, short-term illnesses. Chronic conditions and long-term or recurring illnesses are excluded. These are covered by critical illness and permanent health insurance policies instead.

Abbey Life: 01202 292373

BUPA: 0171-353 5212

CIGNA: 0171-626 8744

Exeter Friendly Society: 01392 75361

Guardian Health: 01303 850303

Norwich Union: 01703 266533

PPP: 01892 512345

Prime Health: 01483 440550

Sun Alliance: 01403 232323

Western Provident Association: 01823 623000

Standard private medical insurance plans: annual premiums

Company Plan name Single male, Couple, male aged Family, male aged 40

aged 30 50, female aged 47 aged 37, 2 children

pounds pounds pounds

Abbey Life Health Care 374.28 964.08 957.24

Budget Healthcare 173.64 527.16 575.64

Bupa Bupa Care 453.75 1195.44 1230.12

CIGNA Personal Healthcare 757.48 1686.92 1995.06

Exeter Friendly 50 Plus Preferred 507.09 1203.84 1313.80

Society Low Cost 333.12 882.21 928.14

Guardian Health AEGIS 369.99 1055.70 1050.60

AEGIS Value 277.53 791.86 788.04

Norwich Union Express Care 460.88 1342.43 1386.46

Trust Care 307.13 829.27 914.27

Personal Care 173.40 471.60 554.40

PPP Classic 441.67 1075.02 1026.13

Value 144.94 361.00 338.38

Prime Health Primecare 262.70 707.85 743.20

Sun Alliance Health First 180.00 492.00 540.00

Western Provident Cedar 399.59 1098.72 1017.36

Association

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?