Healthcare in the UK
There are two types of healthcare in the UK; public and private. Public healthcare is provided by the NHS (National Healthcare Service) and is free to all UK residents. Private healthcare is paid for by individuals or families who prefer to be able to access private facilities in return for a monthly or yearly fee. It is not mandatory for UK residents to take out private health insurance and many find the NHS is sufficient for their medical needs; however, those with ongoing illnesses or who require peace of mind may opt to pay for their healthcare.
The NHS is funded by national health insurance, which has to be paid by all UK citizens who are eligible to be taxed and are in part or full-time employment. NHS services are generally unlimited; seeing a local GP, attending a regular dentist or opticians appointment, surgery and emergency services are all free under the public healthcare system. The only procedures that are not covered by the NHS are those that are classed as cosmetic, although the NHS does carry out gender reassignment surgeries in some cases. The only charge levied by the NHS is prescription charges, which are currently £7.40 per prescription. All UK residents are eligible for public healthcare regardless of age, location, or healthcare requirements. However, one of the main disadvantages of public healthcare is that as it is a publicly funded service, its resources are limited and this can therefore create long waiting lists for non-emergency patients. NHS hospitals are often over-subscribed and recovery times can operate on a minimum basis.
Private health care is provided in the form of insurance. Individuals or families take out health insurance policies that promise to provide private medical treatment in the case of illness. The policies can be paid for monthly, yearly or in a lump sum and vary from company to company and also according to individual requirements. Some healthcare policies will provide a partial or full payment for any costly medical procedures such as surgery. The main benefit of private healthcare is that it provides peace of mind that in the case of illness or a medical condition requiring surgery, you will be seen to as quickly as possible, as waiting lists for private healthcare are significantly shorter than for public healthcare. Private healthcare facilities are often thought to be of a higher quality than those offered by the NHS. You also have greater control over the location of your treatment and also who carries out the consultancy/surgery. However, private healthcare can be very expensive, especially for those who have a lot of healthcare requirements.
Who needs Private Healthcare?
Private healthcare is not necessary for all individuals. Those who are young, healthy or do not class comfort as a crucial factor and do not envisage the onset of disease or serious illness in the immediate future do not necessarily have to pay for costly private health insurance. However, those with families, pre-existing medical conditions or who are at an age of increased risk of illness may wish to possess the peace of mind associated with private healthcare.