View Full Version : Private health insurance ... huge rip-off?

15th Sep 2013, 12:16
I retired from BA in 1993 and continued paying BUPA private health care insurance, at a reduced level of cover. To keep monthly premiums below 200, BUPA put an excess of 500 on every claim.

A month ago I nearly severed my finger in a car spring The NHS booked me into hospital next day and carried out a successful operation to retain my finger. My local NHS clinic dressed the wound daily and the NHS hospital physiotherapist checks progress each month.

As the injury is no longer considered an emergency by the NHS, I am unlikely to see a consultant for follow up advice No problem I thought, this is where my BUPA membership will help. But wait, there is a 500 excess on every claim. Just making an appointment with the consultant will cost me 500 plus!

Since 1993 I have paid a total of more than 45,000 to BUPA and now they want an extra 500 for my first ever claim!

If instead of paying monthly BUPA subscriptions I had put the money into a health designated savings account, there would now be enough to pay for the very best treatment followed by a holiday in the sun to recuperate.

I think private health insurance is a huge rip-off and am about to cancel my subscription 20 years too late. :*
Would be very interested in other PPRuNers opinions.

15th Sep 2013, 12:24
I'm not in the UK but in OZ. I had something happen to me a few years ago, and the hospital bills approached $10000 a week. With out private insurance I would have been in heaps of trouble, but our Medicare system, is a bit different to your NHS.

15th Sep 2013, 12:31
I found the primary benefit of Private health insurance was there was virtually no waiting time for, say, a hernia op and it was done in a private hospital like The Lister. My excess with BUPA is also 500 pounds but that is one first claim in a policy year only and only applies to certain bills, definitely not a visit to a doctor for a referral to a specialist.

15th Sep 2013, 12:33
Insurance is just that - One hope to pay forever and never claim.

We've had a terrible 3 months. Mrs ZFT just had 4+ hour surgery here to sort out a diaphragm and bowel problem resulting from piss poor NHS treatment following a car crash in the UK some time ago and I had a week in ICU here following a thrombosis that scared the crap out of me.

In my case I had no notice of course but in my wife's case, she had the surgery when it suited her and within a week of the correct diagnosis being made.

Both were surprises and both would have also been financial shocks.

We have friends who have just been diagnosed with far worse and without insurance their problems will be much, much worse for them and their families.

In our case I selected a policy that only pays out for in patient costs and I foot the bill for out patient costs. I suits my requirements and budget.

At my age, IMHO insurance is a must.

15th Sep 2013, 12:41
I dropped health insurance about 7 years ago.
My thinking was that if it was anything major and urgent, the NHS are good, and if it is non urgent, what I saved over the years would pay for the likes of hip replacements, etc.
Certainly borne out so far. I have have two major lots of treatment on the NHS with minimal waiting. Still got my own hips, etc. but if and when they need doing I can afford to go private if the waiting time is unacceptable.
Bit like insuring electrical equipment really - Don't insure something if you can afford to replace it - its money down the pan.

15th Sep 2013, 12:44
I worry that this year my renewal with BUPA is nearly 10,000 Euro for self only, no previous ailments and a fit and healthy early sixties. Even dropping down to the next level only drops it to 8,000. It has gone up 800 euro since last year.

At 8.5% increase per year compounded for twenty years I doubt I shall be able to afford it when I start needing it in my eighties...

15th Sep 2013, 13:07
My experience of the NHS is the same:

My thinking was that if it was anything major and urgent, the NHS is good, and if it is non urgent, what I saved over the years would pay for the likes of hip replacements, etc.

An ex RAF friend crashed a microlight recently, and literally broke nearly all the bones in his body. The NHS put him back together using quite a bit of metal plates and bolts. A big part of the cure was his positive attitude, but he is very impressed and grateful to the NHS surgeons.

15th Sep 2013, 13:21
We are not in BUPA, recently my wife had her Carpel Tunnel operation
done at a BUPA hospital near Bath for free.

15th Sep 2013, 14:03
A previous employer provided private health care, my present one doesn't.

I needed some fairly invasive surgical checks last year. I was given a choice of hospitals and chose one that I knew was private, mainly because there was a far shorter waiting list. It was off the beaten track away from public transport routes, but that was no problem.

The NHS paid. Some health authorities apparently buy spare slots at private hospitals. The only issue was getting the results; there was a communication problem with my NHS GP surgery which I had to deal with myself.

cockney steve
15th Sep 2013, 14:35
Insurers are in business to make a profit.
some clients will cost far less than they paid in, others far more.
at the end of the day, they aren't making the huge margins that ,say, payday lenders are making.

If you're a healthy bod, you,like me, could carry your own risk and hope the NHS is serviceable when needed.
If you're the sickly type, private insurance will be useful until they decline your business....why would they volunteer to subsidise your healthcare by several thousands a year, indefinitely?

yer pays yer money, yer takes yer choice!.

15th Sep 2013, 14:40
Mrs radeng gets BUPA cover for us both as part of her employment. There are some pre-existing conditions they don't cover, unlike the BUPA cover I got when I was working, and they did argue about the cataracts, claiming they were the result of diabetes and not steroids - which I was on for nearly 4 years. But eventually they paid, and I got the operation when it fitted in with trips abroad. They also paid for the colonoscopy and barium meal. Excess (there wasn't one on my company's BUPA membership) is 50.

It was definitely worthwhile for my hospital stays in 1999 (15 days) and 2007 (28 days)

15th Sep 2013, 15:18
I'm in the process of cancelling mine. Many senior consultants now charge more than insurance companies will pay with companies increasingly sending you to see a 'preferred partner'. I'm saving my monthly subscription into an account to self fund with a consultant of my choice if needed.

Standard Noise
15th Sep 2013, 18:10
I have BUPA cover provided by my employer and up til this year had not used it. Three months ago I visited the A&E dept at the RUH in Bath with a minor heart problem and again the care was top class, problem was, the follow up with an NHS cardiologist was going to be seven weeks later which, from a work perspective was unacceptable. I used my BUPA cover and saw someone within a week and a half with the tests completed that week. My real problem was the CAA taking another three and a half weeks to accept that there was nowt wrong and re-instate my medical.
The BUPA process was very smooth although I had to contact the hospital and cardiologist to get them to send me the bill (treated as an outpatient and went over my limit for the year). Would I pay for it if I didn't have it provided? Can't say as I've never priced it up, but given that the NHS saved my life two years ago when a Triage nurse spotted the early symptoms of blood poisoning, then I'd probably just keep my money and rely on the NHS.

15th Sep 2013, 18:14
There is another possible issue with private hospitals, which is not exactly advertised.
They may not have any doctor on site outside " office hours ".
I know of one where if a patient took a turn for the worse outside hours, the standard procedure was to dail 999 and get an ambulance sent. In their case the the NHS hospital with Emergency cover and doctors on duty was only 300 yards away.
Shy Torques private hospital "Off the beaten track" may not be so good in a post op emergency.

15th Sep 2013, 18:40
I have just posted this elsewhere on JB.

Hmmm, I felt humbled somewhat this afternoon.

The Eden TV Channel was showing some science programmes introduced by Stephen Hawking. One of the pieces was about advancement in the treatment of heart disease.

Cue a doctor entering St. Thomas' (where I have had my ops, and am due for another in 3 weeks) saying a 'remarkable group of people' had devised a way to use a robotic machine to operate inside the heart.

The next picture is of my doctor (now Professor) using the machine that they used on me. The narrating doctor notes in awe that he is one of only 200 people in the world that can operate in this way. The machine looks like it costs a billion quid.

And the good Professor is using it on me. For free. And I moan about waiting for 10 weeks.

Sometimes we don't realise how lucky we are.

I have work health insurance but they don't cover long-term illnesses. But my emergency bypass cost them 35,000 quid or so, so I've had my money's worth from them.

Interestingly, my heart surgeon told me he had recently cancelled his personal BUPA subscription as they told him the reason his premiums were rising so quickly was that surgeons were charging more and more. Sadly for BUPA this was on the same day he had received a letter at the hospital telling him his payments for BUPA operations were being reduced -- having been unchanged since 1997. :eek:

15th Sep 2013, 21:13
Shy Torques private hospital "Off the beaten track" may not be so good in a post op emergency.

:confused: Not sure of the point of that statement...

The point I was making is that I don't think I need to pay expensive health insurance if the NHS gets the job done, one way or another.

The hospital I attended is definitely a 24 hour one and has an intensive care dept. As I said, I attended for tests and in any case, as an NHS patient (or not, if I had insurance) I'd still dial 999 if anyone here had a medical emergency.

15th Sep 2013, 21:52
Now I've retired, the only reason for BUPA is that it comes with mrs radeng's employment and is (relatively) cheap, since she only pays the tax on it. Were I required to pay for it myself, it would be a total no-no. Things that the NHS have classed as 'urgent' (possible cancer in two cases) have been dealt with very expeditiously.

But hospitals do vary enormously.....

15th Sep 2013, 22:26
I was with PPP in the UK when I worked for BA ( they started with BUPA then moved us over to PPP - sounds as if they went back to BUPA ? - no matter ) and I have kept it going as what is now AXA-PPP International Health wotsit, but it only covers "hospital" care, so my first hernia op. in NZ was full surgery and needed a night stop, no problem, all taken care of by PPP, but my second was done under some new laproscopy system and took about 30 mins, albeit in a hospital, but they wanted to discharge me same day, and PPP were going to consider that as 'day care' not hospital care and not pay, so ..... I insisted on staying in a hospital bed overnight, which cost an additional small fortune, but ... PPP then paid it all.

Same when I had arterial stents inserted, the surgeon wanted me to 'rest' but go home that night, I insisted on an overnight stay, and PPP paid.

Served 'em right.

Nick Riviera
16th Sep 2013, 11:56
It is what it says - insurance. You might pay for years and never use it, you might put in a huge claim the day after you take it out. My dad was on the verge of cancelling his as the premiums were increasing too much for his liking. Then he got taken very ill and managed to run up a bill in excess of 100k so he is happy to pay for it now. I get it through work to cover me and the family and both my wife and eldest son are currently claiming for operations which would have had a long waiting time on the NHS. If it wasn't a work benefit i think I would still pay for it.

as such it is not run for profit, whereas private healthcare companies are

I believe that BUPA is a not-for-profit organisation.

16th Sep 2013, 12:42
My wife and I rely on the NHS for medical stuff, but we pay 7 a month in health insurance for the dogs. One of them had tricky neuro-surgery for a slipped disc. The cost? 6,350. I never heard of a chihuahua living for 18 years so I guess we are permanently in profit on that one. ;)

16th Sep 2013, 14:14
Insurance is a 'grudge' purchase and most people see it as a rip-off until they make the first big claim, equal to or exceeding the premiums paid. Then it all becomes worthwhile.

16th Sep 2013, 17:06
I'm not at all convinced that having private health insurance in the UK is a significant benefit, especially as we age and are more likely to need treatment either not covered by health insurance or that pushes the effective premiums up to unacceptably high levels by way of the excess.

I've been pretty lucky and only needed surgery a few times, once after a serious motorcycle accident (which even if I had been privately insured would have been done under the NHS). I've had two hernia repairs, one in the mid-nineties, waited three weeks and had it done laproscopically in the local hospital with an overnight stay, one last year, done after a 5 week wait, again in the local hospital and done laproscopically, but as a day patient. I also had shoulder surgery a few years ago, which the NHS farmed out to the local private hospital. I waited 6 weeks for it and the standard of care was good, but really no better than the big NHS hospital. I doubt I'd have had better care had I been a private patient.

Our neighbour has BUPA cover and recently went in to a private hospital (the same one that did my shoulder op as it happens) to have a hip replacement. He had a bad reaction to the anaesthetic and, because the private hospital had no emergency care facilities, he was transferred as an emergency case in an ambulance to the NHS hospital, where he stayed for the next few weeks in an ordinary ward. He'd have been better off waiting and getting his hip done there under the NHS in the first place, I think.