Health Insurance. How to get cheap private health insurance, critical illness cover and income protection (and where to get an online insurance quote)

Health insurance. What is critical illness cover and what is private medical insurance

Health Insurance
Quite often employers offer health insurance as part of the package offered to their employees. Those of use who aren't lucky enough to be offered health insurance as part of our job can purchase health insurance from one of the many companies that offer it.
Health insurance pays for unexpected medical bills and can allow us to seek medical treatment privately.

Types of Healthcare Cover
Usually, a standard health insurance policy can be extended to increase cover.

Private Health Insurance (Also known as Private Medical Insurance)
One of the most common types of healthcare insurance is Private Medical Insurance. This generelly pays for consultations, and the option to have tests and operations in a private room without the need for waiting (as you may have to when using the NHS). You can usually choose where you wish to be treated (and possibly even which consultant you will be treated by). Most importantly though, treatment can usually be carried out within days. This type of insurance is usually sold as an annual contract, but many companies allow the premiums to be paid monthly. In common with car insurance, you may be able to reduce the premiums by having an excess which means you pay the first part of any claim (for example the first £100) whilst the insurer will cover the remainder of any claim. You can usually obtain cover for a single person, couples or a Family. Generally, premiums will increase every year due to the increasing age of the insured and in line with medical inflation.

Critical Illness
This type of health insurance (which may also be purchased with life insurance) pays a tax free lump sum on diagnosis of conditions such as Cancer, heart attack, stroke, organ failure, loss of a limb or loss of eyesight. Any payment made by the insurance company can used however you like, but may commonly be used to to pay off a mortgage or debts, to pay for adaptations to your vehicle or modifications to your home.

Income Protection
Income Protection will pay you a wage (usually a percentage of your existing income) if you are unable to work due to accident or sickness. Premiums will vary as they are calculated based on factors such as your occupation classification and how soon after you become ill that you want benefits to pay out. Benefits will usually stop when you are medically fit to return to work.

Long Term Care
Currently, anyone with assets of over a certain amount (e.g. property or savings) will not receive any state help to pay for nursing home care or home nursing. In such cases, the cost will have to be paid out of savings and/or the sale of the person's home. Thousands of homes are sold every year in the UK to pay for nursing home fees.
Long Term Care insurance policies could avoid the need to sell property or spend savings. This can be especially important should the insured be planning to pass then on to children. Long Term Care can provide for partial payment or whole payment residential care or home nursing fees.

Cash Plan
Other policies are available to target specific health related issues. For example to provide cash for medical expenses such as dental or optical work.

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