You don’t need private health insurance to access private healthcare services at a hospital or clinic. If you choose to go private without insurance then you are a self-paying patient, which means you agree to pay for your own treatment, usually by cash, check, credit card or with third-party finance. It’s common for a lot of private care providers to demand payment before the procedure is carried out.
There are many reason why some people choose to self-finance private healthcare services. There are certain treatments that, even if you have health insurance, your insurer won’t cover. These include almost all cosmetic or elective procedures that are deemed not to be necessary to improve the quality of life. These same treatments are also often unavailable on the NHS which means there is no other choice but to self-finance.
In some cases, treatments that are usually available through private health insurance schemes may not be available to certain individuals based on their personal circumstances. For instance, those with pre-existing conditions and chronic long-term conditions may be excluded from receiving treatment. It is important to know exactly what your policy covers as there are many different types of cover, and the individual policies can vary depending on the provider.
If you’re in need of vital medical treatment, and your health insurer doesn’t cover the cost of private care, the option to pay for your own treatment is available but can be very costly. A lot of people in this position choose to go through the NHS, which means the treatment is free, but there may be a delay in receiving care due to long waiting lists. Depending on what the required treatment is the waiting times will vary.
For urgent medical care, it is possible for some patients to go abroad for private medical care and have the treatment partly or fully subsidised by the NHS, or other public health service if the patient is a non-UK resident. This is made possible thanks to two specific schemes. The first scheme is an EU cross border healthcare directive passed in 2011 and the second is the S2 scheme.
The EU directive on cross-border healthcare is very similar to the S2 scheme, with a few significant differences regarding the application process and payment method. To see if you’re eligible for either scheme please contact your GP.
The standard process for private health treatments in the UK without health insurance is as follows:
- Contact your GP. They will provide a referral letter to a consultant or specialist they deem appropriate for the treatment you need. If you prefer, you may do your own research to find your own private care provider and request a referral there.
- An appointment will be arranged with the consultant, which you’ll attend for tests and assessment. Following this, the consultant will agree on the best course of action to take.
- The consultant will report back to your GP with an update
- If an operation is required, you can contact private hospitals or clinics for a quote, making sure it includes all costs, from hospital charges to surgeon’s fees.
- If you are happy with the price you can continue to book a date for your procedure. If you’re not sure about it, it’s not too late to change your mind either.
- After the procedure, your GP will receive another update from the consultant or hospital.
- You will be advices to attend follow up appointments with your consultant.
What finance options are there?
It’s possible to get finance for medical treatments from specialist finance companies who can offer very competitive rates. These schemes are designed for people who want to receive private care but have no health insurance cover or the service is not available on the NHS.
How to get a quote for private treatment
With private health services you need to locate and request a quote directly from the care provider and agree on the price and terms of the treatment.
Is GP referral necessary?
This will depend on the type of treatment needed and the private consultant dealing with the treatment. Many doctors, consultants and specialist may be reluctant to deal with patients without a referral letter from a GP. It’s best to check with your consultant to see if a referral is needed before treatment can take place.