Where health insurance can give you extensive cover for medical conditions, a health cash plan can provide you with cash back to cover the everyday healthcare bills we all face. It is important to note that a health cash plan does not pay for treatment and operations that are performed privately like private health insurance does. Instead it helps fund everyday health treatments, complimenting what you receive on the NHS or privately. It is a viable alternative if you choose not to have private medical insurance.
What is a health cash plan?
A health cash plan pays money towards the cost of a wide range of treatments such as dentist or optician appointments, therapy costs such as homeopathy, acupuncture or physiotherapy, the costs of having to go into a hospital or if you need to see a specialist. Health cash plans are a low cost option to help you meet these day to day medical costs which anyone can incur.
You are encouraged to seek medical investigation into any new symptoms you suffer as early as possible, so you can get treatment for any new conditions within good time. It is common to have screening costs and access to helplines as part of your cover. Discounts at health clubs may be included, and some plans can be tailored to your individual needs. For example, you may wish to select cover which provides for treatment at home, aftercare and home help.
A variety of packages are offered and you are usually charged an ongoing monthly fee.
What health cash plan options are there?
Most companies who provide health cash plans differ in the options they offer. There is a wide variety of products and it is advisable to shop around. It is important to check the details of any plan you purchase so that you know what it covers as this can vary from company to company.
- Packages. A package plan is a pre-set plan offered by insurers with no option to tailor the plan to your needs. Insurers use their knowledge to plan the best package for the average person or family. It helps them to keep their costs down and easier for the customer to buy.
- Limited cover. Limited cover plans are available if you cannot afford a full care package or do not wish to pay for screening or helplines. These plans vary according to each insurer. Some may only offer dental and optical cover, some may allow you to choose what extras you want.
- Dental. Dental plans also vary according to which insurer you buy from. Most cover the cost of dental appointments, prescriptions and cosmetic work. Some also cover the cost of an emergency visit and some cover the cost of treatment following an accident. Some plans also include optical treatment.
- Older Customers. Some health cash plans a tailored for older customers who may need to visit the doctors more regularly or require help at home, but do not need cover for young children in the house or pregnancy costs.
- Business. Some plans are designed specifically for employers who wish to offer their employees an extra benefit to help retain their services and reduce absenteeism. There are three types of plan, one where the company pays for the whole plan, one where the employee voluntarily takes a deduction from their salary and one where payments are made jointly. Different levels of cover can be awarded. The plans are relatively simple to administer and are generally very cost effective.
- Choice of Cover. These plans are for people who want to choose a core level of cover and add a wide variety of extra cover to their plan.
- Children. Child health cash plans are designed specifically to meet the needs of children only.
What are the advantages to having a health cash plan?
You don’t need to pass a medical before joining a plan and are often accepted if you need treatment for an existing problem. Dental treatment and optical treatment are usually covered in the plan, and children are often covered on their parents’ plan. Cost of premiums are not based on gender or age and do not increase as you get older.
You pay a monthly fee and can often cancel your plan at any time (although you may be required to wait before you can rejoin).
What are the disadvantages to having a health cash plan?
Health Cash plans do not provide the treatment for a problem, only help with the cost. Most plans only cover a proportion of your expenses and have an annual limit. Most plans also have a waiting period before you can claim; some types of claim, such as maternity claims, require you to wait for up to a year before you can apply.
Finally, some plans do not cover the costs of existing problems. If you are likely to need help with the cost of treatment for an existing problem, please check your policy wording carefully, or refer to a specialist broker for assistance.