In this article we take a look at health insurance paying particular attention to how a pre-existing medical condition can impact your health insurance application. We explain what type of medical conditions can impact a health insurance application, what information the health insurance provider will need, whether a pre-existing medical condition impacts the cost of health insurance and how to get the best health insurance quotes.
What is health insurance and why do I need it?
Health insurance (sometimes referred to as private health insurance or private medical insurance) is an insurance policy that will pay for private treatment if you become ill. In addition, a health insurance policy can help skip NHS waiting times and in some cases, you'll get access to alternative drugs and treatments. There are many things to consider when buying a health insurance policy including the type of cover you need, the amount of excess you are willing to pay and the type of underwriting you would prefer. For more information on how health insurance works, check out our article 'How to compare the best health insurance policies in the UK'.
For the purposes of this article, we will focus on how a health insurance policy is underwritten and how pre-existing health conditions can impact the cover you buy.
What is considered a pre-existing condition for health insurance?
A pre-existing condition is any condition that you have had symptoms or sought advice or treatment for in the past. However, health insurance providers only pay particular interest in conditions for which you have had symptoms or sought advice or treatment within the last 5 years and we explain more in the following section.
Can I get health insurance with a pre-existing condition?
The simple answer is yes, you can get a health insurance policy even if you have had sought treatment or advice for a pre-existing medical condition in the past.
Below is a list of common questions we see relating to pre-existing medical conditions and health insurance. Click on the links to read the articles in more detail:
- Can I get health insurance with high blood pressure?
- Can I get health insurance with high or raised cholesterol?
- Can I get health insurance with depression, anxiety or mental illness?
It is important to understand how your pre-existing condition impacts your health insurance application and whether you would be able to make a claim for your pre-existing condition in the future. In order to do this, we first need to explain how a health insurance provider will consider your application, a process known as underwriting.
When you apply for health insurance you will be given the choice of underwriting and the choices are as follows:
- Moratorium underwriting - The most popular underwriting choice. Only limited medical information needs to be supplied to the insurance company, typically, only 4 or 5 yes/no questions need to be answered. The insurance company will automatically exclude all conditions which you have sought medical advice or treatment within the last 5 years. Importantly, policy exclusions are removed so long as you remain symptom, advice and treatment free for a period of 2 years or more (from the date that you take out a policy).
- Full medical underwriting - The insurance company will require your full medical history and they may need to contact your GP. You may be asked to contribute towards the cost of a GP report and applications will take longer to commence. Importantly, exclusions are still likely to be applied for pre-existing conditions, however, you will have the benefit of knowing exactly what you are covered for should you ever need to claim.
If a pre-existing condition reoccurs in the first 2 years of taking out a health insurance policy then it is likely to be excluded permanently. However, The Exeter is the only health insurance provider that has a 'fixed moratorium' policy, meaning that so long as you do not claim on your policy for the condition in the first 2 years (for example if you seek treatment through the NHS) then an exclusion would not apply.
Can I get health insurance if I have a chronic pre-existing condition?
Yes, however, there is likely to be an exclusion applied for any claims that arise relating to your particular condition, assuming that you have had symptoms or sought advice or treatment within the last 5 years. It is important to understand that having a pre-existing medical condition will not impact the price that you pay for your health insurance, it will simply place limitations on what you may claim on in the future.
Does a health insurance policy cover cancer?
It depends. Some health insurance policies come with an element of cancer cover and some provide cancer benefits at an additional cost. If you are particularly interested in a health insurance policy which offers the most comprehensive cancer cover then you should speak to an independent health insurance specialist* who can compare all of the leading health insurance providers and provide advice and guidance on the policy which may suit you best.
What other exclusions are often applied to health insurance policies?
Aside from exclusions for pre-existing medical conditions within the last 5 years, some insurers will not provide cover for the following:
- Cosmetic surgery
- Mental health
- Dental work
Many of the leading insurers do however provide an option to 'bolt-on' additional benefits that provide cover for some of the above conditions. You should speak to an independent specialist who can explain all of the options available to you. We explain how more about the service an independent specialist can provide as well as who to contact in the next section.
Which health insurance provider is best for pre-existing conditions?
Health insurance quotes will vary from person to person and so there isn't one stand out health insurance provider which offers the best cover for those who have pre-existing health conditions. To make sure you get the most comprehensive health insurance cover at the best price, you should speak to an independent health insurance specialist such as Assured Futures*.
Click on the link above and complete the short form to access instant quotes from the leading health insurance providers for pre-existing conditions, including Axa PPP, Bupa and Vitality. Additionally, one of Assured Future's expert advisers will be on hand should you need any advice or guidance when it comes to selecting the health insurance policy that best suits your needs.
- Your premium will not increase due to a pre-existing health condition
- You may have an exclusion applied if you have had any advice or treatment for a pre-existing condition in the last 5 years
- If you choose moratorium underwriting and have not experienced symptoms, treatment or advice in the last 5 years then you will be covered for your pre-existing condition
- If you choose moratorium underwriting and have experienced symptoms, treatment or advice for a pre-existing medical condition in the last 5 years then you may still be covered for that condition, so long as you remain symptom, advice and treatment free for 2 years (from the policy start date)
- Chronic conditions are excluded
- Additional options can be added such as comprehensive cancer cover, dental cover, mental health cover, pregnancy and eyecare cover
- Speak to an independent health insurance specialist* to get expert advice and guidance to ensure you are getting the most comprehensive cover at the best possible price
If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link, Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. The following link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses - Assured Futures
Looking for a financial adviser near you?
Do you need financial advice? An independent financial adviser can show you how to make the most
of your money. Find your nearest qualified and regulated adviser using this VouchedFor search tool.