APRIL UK’s new cash plan is aimed at helping more consumers afford private healthcare by offering cash back for self-pay treatment at private hospitals in the UK. Think of it as a cross between a regular cash plan and budget PMI.
The plan gives customers access to any private hospital in the UK to receive treatment – which is paid for upfront. The customer is then reimbursed for the cost – up to the benefit limit of their chosen level of cover. There are three levels of cover. The plan’s three key benefits are:
* Diagnostic cover. Pays up to £750-£1,500 a year (depending on which level of cover is chosen – Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3) for private GP appointments, consultations and tests (including PET, MRI and CT scans).
* Self Pay Package Cover. After GP or specialist referral, this pays for self-pay packages arranged by a hospital up to £5,000-£10,000 a year.
* Therapies. This pays up to £200-£400 a year for physiotherapy, osteopathy, acupuncture, homeopathy and chiropractic treatment.
Exclusions are reasonably standard and include treatment outside the UK, A&E treatment, injuries from participation in sport of any kind and pregnancy. Pre-existing conditions are excluded unless symptom free and having not received treatment or advice for that condition for at least two years from the start date of the plan.
APRIL UK says it hopes the new plan will help to rekindle customer interest in the stagnating PMI market.
The new plan is simple to take out, with no medicals required and a simple pre-existing conditions clause is applied. The plan is available to UK residents between the ages of 18 and 69 inclusive.
The pricing structure is also simple, but premiums are age-banded, which means they increase each time the policyholder advances into an older band (the bands are set within ten year increments). Initial premiums range from £10 a month (based on level one cover for an 18-29 year old) to £80 a month (based on Level 3 cover for a 65-69 year old).
What They Say
Business development director Isaac Lam said: “We’ve conducted market research, and the feedback we’ve been getting is that many people view private medical insurance as a luxury product. So we decided to create a product that bridges the gap between affordability and access to private treatment. The Hospital Self-Pay Cash Plan essentially combines the low-cost premiums of a cash plan with the valuable benefits of private medical treatment – a ‘best of both’ solution.”
What We Say
"This is an interesting approach to covering private medical costs. By paying for or towards diagnostics, self-pay packages and therapies, this plan will help pay for many hospital costs, at a lower cost than traditional PMI. However it will not cover everything – for example, cancer treatment is usually not available as a self-pay package and maximum benefits are limited too.
"Accept the limitations however, and the plan offers a genuine alternative to traditional budget PMI. In any event, if the customer is happy to leave more complex treatments, such as for cancer, to the NHS, the traditional ‘full refund’ approach of traditional PMI may be an unwanted (and expensive) option anyway."