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Your Health Insurance Rights

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 17 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Health insurance is a fact of life, a product offered by many companies these days. Its aim isn't to replace the NHS, but to help with acute conditions - a disease, illness or injury that will respond quickly to treatment and return you to the state of health you enjoyed prior to the illness. It allows you to receive treatment promptly, rather than joining a waiting list, often with a choice of doctors and hospitals.

Buying Health Insurance

You can purchase health insurance through a broker, directly from the insurer, or via insurance agents. It can be done face-to-face, over the phone, by post or online. However you do it, if you don't receive full details of the terms of your health insurance coverage at the time you buy, you have the right to a 14-day cooling-off period from when you do receive the information in which you can change your mind. During that time you can receive a full refund of any premium paid, unless you've made a claim. After that period, if you decide to cancel your health insurance policy, you're not usually entitled to a refund.

There's a wide range of health insurance coverage, from the minimal to the extensive. What you choose depends on you and how much you want to spend. You should be aware, though, that your health insurance won't cover GP visits (which fall under the NHS), A&E admissions, chronic illnesses (long-term illnesses that can't be cured), and pre-existing conditions. You'll also find that drug abuse, self-inflicted injuries, HIV/AIDS, outpatient drugs and dressings, infertility, pregnancy, dialysis, organ transplants, war risks and injuries from dangerous pursuits are among the other areas not covered by health insurance. You should check the health insurance policy carefully to see what is and isn't covered.

Your Medical History And Health Insurance

When you apply for health insurance coverage, an insurer will want to know your medical history. This can be through a medical history declaration or a moratorium (all insurers offer the former, but only some offer the latter). With a medical history declaration, also known as a full medical underwriting, you complete a form with all the details of your medical history. If you don't give complete information, a claim may be denied at a later date or your health insurance policy cancelled. If you have a medical condition that's likely to return, you can still get a policy, but that condition won't be covered, either indefinitely or for a set time. Insurers will still cover you if you're disabled, but treatment arising from your disability might not be covered.

Under a moratorium, the insurer doesn't cover any condition you've had in the last five years. You can only be covered for them if you have no symptoms, treatment, medication, tests or advice (including GP) for them for a set period of time (usually two years) after health insurance coverage begins.

Health Insurance Premiums

There's no guarantee that your health insurance premiums won't rise. Indeed, they may rise above the level of inflation, due to the increase in the cost of health care. You can keep your health insurance costs down by paying an excess, choosing to receive treat at a specified hospital or at a different grade of hospital accommodation, or paying part of the fee yourself - none of which are ideal answers.

Your health insurance premiums will also rise with age, since statistically older people suffer more illnesses.

Regulation And Complaints About Health Insurance

Health insurance is covered under the General Insurance Standards Council's rules; this applies as long as the person selling or advising on the health insurance is a member of the GISC, so you should check. All insurers must treat your details, especially medical history, with absolute confidentiality.

By law, all insurers or advisers who are members of the GISC must have a complaints procedure in place. If you have a problem or complaint about your health insurance coverage, talk to your insurer or adviser. If there's no solution, there must de an independent dispute-resolution procedure, and you must be given details of this when you take out coverage.

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Failed laser surgery from Ultralase I wanted to be able to see a golf ball after I had played it. I found Ultralase and went to see them. They told me that after treatment I would be able to see golf balls, I would be able to drive without glasses, watch television without glasses and would be able to reduce the strength of reading glasses from 3x to 1.5x. I had surgery and a month later went to see vision express to see what had been achieved. They found a haemorrhage behind my left eye and said I should go to emergency at Kingston Eye Hospital asap. The consultant at KEH said that the haemorrhage was bleeding and it was in a difficult position at the focal point behind the eye and there was nothing they could do for me. I had now lost 60% sight in my left eye. This consultant said if the bleeding continued I would lose the sight in my eye. If it stopped bleeding then my eye would recover to how it had been. Three months and 6 visits to KEH later the bleeding stopped and now two years on my sight is the same as it was before Ultralase attacked me. I signed an HP agreement with a company called Creation Finance to pay around £3500 to Ultralase. This company is probably owned by Ultralase but I am not sure. I stopped the payments after one instalment when I realised that Ultralase had almost blinded me. I then became the subject of a huge amount of harassment from this hideous company and have files inches thick full of letters too and fro with Ultralase and Creation finance. Ultralase said if I paid half of the outstanding money then they would call off the dogs. I refused.I said why should I pay them any money for not improving my eyes and nearly blinding me into the bargain. I am currently on holiday in Spain and creation finance continues to harass me telephoning me three times last week alone. I am currently putting my case to Watchdog and hopefully my story will be broadcast soon. Glyn Roberts
glynbach - 11-Jul-11 @ 12:25 PM
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