Many people in the UK do not have private medical insurance because they rely on the NHS for medical treatment. NHS care is free and accessible to everyone in the UK but it may still be a good idea to have private medical insurance, for the following reasons:
Pros of private healthcare
- Private healthcare offers patients a greater choice. Generally speaking, patients can choose which hospital they want to go to and which consultant they want to deliver their treatment.
- Better continuity of care; patients are usually treated by the same consultant throughout and this improves the continuity of care and allows the patient to build a stronger relationship with their doctor.
- Private rooms: private hospitals have private rooms, rather than same sex or unisex wards, which enables the patient to enjoy greater privacy. Many rooms also have en suite bathroom facilities.
- Shorter waiting lists: private hospitals often have much shorter waiting lists than NHS hospitals because there is much less pressure on the system.
- Modern facilities: many private hospitals are fairly new and have modern décor, whereas NHS hospitals are generally not the most attractive buildings and many are quite old and tired looking.
- Some treatments offered by private hospitals and clinics are not available on the NHS.
- Flexible appointments: many private healthcare providers offer appointments outside of work hours.
Are there any disadvantages of private healthcare?
Private healthcare does have many advantages but there are also disadvantages; these include:
Cost: cost is the major drawback of private healthcare, a procedure or course of treatment that is available free on the NHS may cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds privately.
- Waiting lists: if you are desperate to see a consultant who has a particularly good reputation, you may end up waiting even longer than you would on the NHS.
- Logistical problems: if your health condition or treatment plan is not straightforward it may be difficult to liaise with specialists from other departments and hospitals and if you need additional tests or further treatment after your initial course of treatment this will add to the cost. If you have to be referred to another department, this may be confusing and it may take longer than it would at an NHS hospital.
- Accessibility: private healthcare is not accessible to everyone because of the cost of treatment. If you do not have private medical insurance and you earn a low income, you may struggle to afford private healthcare.