Are you concerned about the crisis in our beloved NHS? Are you considering private health insurance as an essential safety net with a view to any possible future health problems?

If you are thinking about buying health insurance, there are a number of ways you might be able to shave off some of the expense. Read on for 7 easy ways to slash costs and still end up with a decent health insurance package.

1. Benchmark using comparisons

As long as you aren’t suffering from any pre-existing medical conditions, start your research by browsing the comparison sites. It’s worth knowing that pre-existing conditions aren’t covered by many health insurers. If you do have a pre-existing medical condition this may reduce the number of policy options available to you. It’s a good idea to speak with a broker for specialist advice if this is the case.

2. Use a broker for specialist advice

If you don’t fancy trawling through the comparison sites, speaking to a health insurance broker, such as Flexible Health, is a great idea. The advantages of using a broker, rather than approaching an individual health insurer, is they won’t be trying to up-sell you one particular policy. They’ll be representing a variety of health insurance companies, and won’t be married to one particular insurer or plan. Effectively, they’ll be looking for the best deal they can get for you.

Another great advantage of using a broker is the fact that you’ll be tapping into their experience. Brokers know the health insurance market and the full range of policies and plans extremely well, and will be able to give specialist advice about anything that may complicate your application, such as pre-existing conditions.

3. Check the deals brokers and comparison sites miss

Don’t limit your research to comparison sites and brokers. Some insurers won’t be registered with either. And it’s not just small insurance companies who choose not to affiliate with the big comparison sites and brokers. Some bigger health insurers only offer their services either directly or through a specialist provider.

4. Show your insurer you have a healthy lifestyle

Some insurers will charge less if you can prove you are in good health, or will give extra benefits (such as cashback) when you renew your policy and remain in good health. For example, AXA PPP are offering (through specific brokers) a guarantee that the premiums won’t go up in the second year as long as you haven’t made a claim in the first year.

Some insurers have rewards for regular medical checks, gym memberships and activity trackers. Rewards tend to be things like discounts on running shoes, cycles and gym membership fees, but are worth considering if the rewards cover things you would normally pay for anyway. But, don’t let the rewards dominate your choices.

5. Pay a year up front or by monthly direct debit

Many insurers will factor in discounts if you pay upfront for the year or by monthly direct debit. Don’t be tempted into a policy, just for the discount. Make sure the features of the policy are also right for you.

6. Paying an excess

An excess on a health insurance policy refers to the amount you pay towards each claim. For example, if you have a medical bill for £500 and your excess is £150, your insurer will only pay you back £350 when you submit your claim.

Any excess is a cost on top of your monthly or annual premiums. If you have some savings to cover the cost of a higher excess on your policy, then it may be a way to keep the cost of your monthly premiums down. Don’t be tempted by a policy with low premiums and a large excess you can’t afford to weather.

7. Get the best deal for YOU

Doing some research is imperative. Find out what insurers are offering with different plans and list what features are important to you. Make sure you understand the small print of any health insurance policies before you sign up. Once you have a comprehensive list of the key features and the type of plan you would like, then you can get to work finding the best price for the type of policy you want.  Going on holiday with no health insurance is always a risk, make sure you have both your health insurance and e111 just to be safe.

Don’t necessarily judge a policy by its price tag. Lower premiums don’t necessarily mean you are getting the most affordable option. There may be a high excess on the policy. Should you find yourself in need of treatment further down the line, there’s the possibility you may be off work and even find yourself without an income. Higher excess may not be affordable when you need access to the health care you have been paying for.

Most importantly, try to negotiate. Every health insurer wants your business.

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