What are your payment options?
If you choose private healthcare for your consultations, diagnostics, treatment and aftercare then you have two options to cover the costs of your care. If you have private medical insurance then you may use this to settle the costs or you can pay yourself, known as self-pay.
Private Medical Insurance (PMI)
More than 7 million people in the UK have some form of private medical insurance (PMI), either through a policy they've bought themselves or through their employer, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI)¹.
Factors to consider when using PMI
There are many different types of private health insurance from family plans to limited or specialist cover.
PMI is designed to cover acute conditions that start after your policy begins. An acute condition is a short-term illness that will respond quickly to treatment. So if you are diagnosed with a chronic long term illness that cannot be cured it is unlikely that your policy will cover you.
Most private health insurance policies do not cover patients for pre-existing conditions (an illness that has been diagnosed before the policy starts)². So, for example, if you already have a heart condition, the policy will not pay for heart surgery.
Additionally PMI in the UK doesn’t normally cover ante-natal care for a normal pregnancy. Treatments such as cosmetic surgery and breast enlargement are seen as elective procedures and are also not covered by private health insurance in the UK unless it is deemed a medical necessity.
How to use your PMI
Most health insurance companies require a GP referral to authorise the payment of your care. Your GP will recommend a consultant or specialist and write a private patient referral letter. You can ask your GP to refer you to specific consultant if you wish.
You will need to contact your insurance company initially to check if your first out-patient appointment is covered. Thereafter before each stage of treatment you should inform your insurer of the care you require and ask for confirmation that you are covered for outpatient consultations or tests and the necessary operation or treatment. They will check that both the hospital and the surgeon are covered by your health insurance plan. Most private hospitals will charge for the hospital services, such as nursing care, hospital facilities and medical consumables, and the consultants, including your surgeon, anaesthetist and physician, will charge separately for their time.
Ultimately you are responsible for the costs of your treatment so it is important that you are clear about the level of cover your insurer will provide and if there are any shortfalls that you will need to pay for yourself.
Insurance companies differ in how they process private medical care claims. Talk to your PMI provider about the specific requirements they need to process your claim, such as a claim form from your GP, and ensure you follow their process.
• Obtain a letter of referral from your GP
• Confirm with your insurance company the level of cover they will provide with your policy at each stage of your treatment. Obtain a claim form if required by your insurer.
• Provide your healthcare provider with the details of your cover and authorisation for that stage of treatment
If you don’t have private medical insurance or you do but your policy does not cover the care you require then you will need to cover the costs of your private healthcare treatment yourself. This is usually on or before your appointment or admission to hospital.
Your self-pay options
As a self-pay patient you are responsible for settling your bill. It is therefore advisable to always check with your healthcare provider about the costs of consultations, screening, treatment and aftercare upfront so that you can consider your payment options beforehand.
There are a number of options available that may help you finance and budget for your private healthcare needs.
Fixed cost care
Private healthcare companies often offer a fixed price package for many treatment paths. These fixed price schemes have been developed to offer you peace of mind that all your care relating to your treatment is included in one price and it allows you to budget for this expense. You should be aware that initial consultations and initial tests may be excluded and this varies from provider to provider. What is normally included are all medical and nursing care at your hospital, the cost of private hospital accommodation, operating theatre fees, drugs and dressings while in hospital, as well as the surgeons' and anaesthetists’ fees.
Payment schemes and loans
Some private healthcare providers offer payment schemes so that you can spread the cost of treatment. Your healthcare provider may offer the option to take out a personal medical loan for up to 100% of your treatment costs so that you can access the treatment you need now without having to wait. There are also specialist companies who offer competitive loans and finance schemes.
Steps to private healthcare if you are self-paying
If you are paying for your healthcare yourself you can contact the consultant, hospital or clinic you wish to go to directly or you can go through your GP to arrange to see a consultant for an initial appointment and tests.
As a self-paying patient, it’s advisable to do some research into the costs for all the stages of your required treatment and the payment options available to you. You will want to agree a price for your treatment at every stage before it starts and ensure you are able to afford the payments as required. It’s important as a self-paying patient that you are not worrying about paying for your private healthcare during or after treatment as you will need to concentrate on preparing for your procedure and recovering from it. You may receive bills separately from your consultant and the hospital. You may also need post-operative care such as physiotherapy or rehabilitation so make sure you allow for the cost of these too.
Paying for treatment at Ramsay Health Care UK
Ramsay Health Care UK offers private healthcare to patients who have private medical insurance and those who are self-paying.
If you’re a PMI patient, Ramsay hospitals has direct settlement arrangements with BUPA, BUPA International, AXA PPP, Standard Life, Aviva, CIGNA, Helix, Exeter Friendly, Simply Health, WPA, and Prudential to make things easier for you.
Ramsay offers a range of Fixed Cost Care packages to cover treatment paths, from initial consultation through to the operation and aftercare, in one fixed price quote. This all inclusive package gives you the peace of mind of knowing everything you need is covered. Additionally if you need to stay in hospital longer than initially thought due to a complication occurring Ramsay will cover the costs of treatment and the tests required.
Ramsay Health Care UK also offers a loan scheme so that you can access the procedures you need now without having to wait. You can take a loan from £500 up to 100% of your treatment costs with competitive terms and a choice of repayment periods. Ramsay loans can be applied for online and decisions are normally given in two hours.
All self-funding and most privately insured patients can enjoy Premium Care at a Ramsay Health Care UK hospital. As a Premium Care patient you will receive exclusive benefits, from great food and a relaxing environment, to priority access and appointments to suit your lifestyle. We aim to help you feel like a guest as well as a patient.
Ramsay Health Care UK | 22/12/2014