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If the idea of being ill in your old age is one of your major fears, you’re not alone. Most of us are worried about falling ill, but with advancing years the anxiety can increase, even if we don’t go as far as developing Nosophobis (irrational fear of illness)! Human nature, being what it is, likes to ignore the unpleasant or uncomfortable and healthcare issues are no different.
But it is a topic you’d do well to revisit as the restructure of the NHS could have a serious impact on funding and access to treatment; we are facing the most radical shake up of NHS funding since its creation in 1948. Local primary care trusts, which currently hold the purse strings are set to be disbanded, allowing GPs control over budgets, and hospitals more scope to raise income from private treatment.
Recent research revealed that the issues that worry people about the NHS are broad-ranging too; people are most worried about staff shortages, next comes waiting lists, then cleanliness, superbugs and quality of food, and finally lack of privacy. Unfortunately, all of these are likely to get worse in the near to mid-term.
Naturally, many of us would like to choose private medical treatment but fear it will be too expensive. We worry that we may pay for cover, only to find that the required treatment or operation is available on the NHS. But what options do you really have if you can’t afford private health insurance? Perhaps more than you think!
The good news is that the market has responded to these concerns and there are a number of different policies available for a wide variety of budgets. Health cash plans have been around for a long time but recent innovations now allow people to have real choice of how they receive treatment. Typically cheaper than traditional Private Medical Insurance, these plans entitle you to cash back for items such as hospital stays, specialist consultations, out of pocket expenses as well as dental or optical treatment.
A number of cash plan providers also allow customers to add cover for specific medical procedures and operations, outpatient scans and screens, and personal accident insurance. It is even possible to add cover for cancer drugs and therapies which may not be available on the NHS. The beauty of these schemes is their flexibility; cover can be tailor-made to suit customers’ requirements, priorities and budget, rather than being offered a plan where the only choice is “take it or leave it”.
So if you’re one of those who worries that they’d be dependent solely on the NHS and have little or no choice about their healthcare, you may well be able to lay that anxiety to one side as the health insurance industry responds to customers’ ever changing needs.