The decision regarding whether or not to invest in private healthcare is a complex one. The National Health Service (NHS), in general, provides an excellent and free service to the UK population.
While you may assume that private healthcare in inherently superior to the services offered by the NHS, this may not always be the case. It is imperative to do your due diligence and to make sure that private healthcare fits your specific needs by considering some of the following.
Can I afford it?
When engaging with prospective private healthcare providers, it’s important to be clear regarding exactly what is covered under the payment plan. It is not uncommon for private hospitals, for example, to charge patients separately for access to a doctor, surgeon and anaesthetist.
In addition to these separate charges – which may not all be covered under your plan – it is important to be aware of any extra charges that you may incur as a result of treatment, such as a surcharge for staying in hospital over an allotted number of days due to complications.
Private healthcare is expensive. It can be money well spent if you can afford it, but if you have to stretch yourself past breaking point to pay for it, unexpected costs can be financially crippling.
Am I likely to be undergoing treatments that aren’t available on the NHS?
Private healthcare is a worthwhile investment for those who plan on undergoing treatment that is currently unavailable on the NHS. If, therefore, you intend to undergo elective cosmetic surgery, for example, private healthcare could be the ideal solution to your healthcare conundrum.
Is the added convenience worth the extra money?
One should see the acquisition of private healthcare definitively as an investment. If you lead a busy life, due to work or home commitments, the ability to skip the NHS’s lengthy waiting lists for some procedures, as well as being able to choose the date on which you have a certain treatment, may well be excellent reasons to make the investment.
If the treatments that you expect to undertake are not urgent in any way, choosing to wait for NHS treatment and the slight inconvenience of being unable to schedule your desired date for surgery could be the savvier financial choice.
Is private healthcare safer than NHS treatment?
While there is no definitive evidence to suggest that private healthcare facilities are safer than NHS hospitals there are certainly less medical negligence cases, affecting private healthcare, reported in the press each year.
In addition to fewer medical negligence cases, private hospitals in general hold themselves accountable to higher standards of hygiene and patient care than NHS hospitals, with the number of recorded outbreaks of MRSA, for example, markedly fewer in the private sector.
If a problem should arise, and you decide to pursue a medical negligence claim through a specialist firm, such as Co-operative Legal Services, private hospitals will certainly be more motivated to bring the case to a conclusion as quickly as possible, given the damage that such a case could have on the provider’s reputation.
The personal touch
If you’re seriously considering investing in private healthcare, your decision should be made on the grounds that it suits your specific circumstances.
If finances aren’t an issue, and you prize convenience, the personal touch associated with private healthcare is often the proverbial tipping point. The ability to choose your own consultant, the subsequent guarantee that you will only ever see that consultant in future, as well as the privacy of a private hospital bed, adds that little something extra which may well be worth parting with a few pounds for.