March 30

Living in a post-coronavirus world

Individuals

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How healthcare will change and what you need to do keep you and your family safe.

We all know about the coronavirus that has swept over the world, causing widespread disruption and chaos in millions of people’s lives.

How could we not?  It’s affected us all, extremely personally.

On a short-term basis, as we write this at the end of March 2020, we know that the NHS is in for a hugely stressful and challenging time.

Should the coronavirus follow the same trajectory that it has in countries like China and Italy, the health service will be stretched to breaking point. With thousands upon thousands of patients needing care at the same time, causing real, significant issues and most likely, a considerable loss of life.

It’s our earnest hope here at Sustainable Healthcare UK that this doesn’t happen and that the Government measures put in place will flatten the curve.

Time will tell on that front.

But what IS clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is the health service is in for a hugely difficult few months, and that the long-term repercussions of the coronavirus will last for years.

Here’s just some of what is likely to happen as a result of the coronavirus:

Waits for surgery will increase exponentially

The waiting lists for surgery weren’t short anyway, with thousands of UK citizens stuck on waiting lists for important operations for many months.

But with all non-essential operations cancelled for the foreseeable future, and more people joining the back of the queue, we can expect to see the waiting lists get longer and longer; not ideal if you’re in chronic pain that needs managing.

Face-to-face care will decrease

With millions of people isolating and socially distancing themselves at home, the way that we do many things has changed unalterably.

Many businesses, having grappled with the technology required to hold meetings virtually, have now realised how easy it is, and the same is true in the health sector.

Currently, the majority of GP appointments have taken place over the phone. That is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

It seems likely that when the NHS emerges out the other side of this crisis, they’ll realise that telephone consultations are quicker and more cost-effective than face-to-face, so we can expect to see a reduction of ‘in-person’ care from NHS medical professionals.

More public funds and resources will go towards pharmaceutical research

The single, major issue surrounding the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is that is no vaccine for it.

And when you consider that this particular virus is one of several outbreaks over the past two decades, it might seem strange that we’re so far away from a vaccine.  It looks like we’re starting from scratch.

One reason why is that the vaccines are generally only prioritised when the private sector is confident that it’ll be a profitable venture, which leaves our system open to the kind of outbreak we see the effects of now.

It seems likely that this experience will see Governments all over the world, including the UK, spending more time, money and resources on the development and manufacture of medicines.

Mental health problems will rise

You don’t have to be a psychologist to realise the impact of hundreds of thousands of people spending their days locked away in the same four walls.  Unable to interact with people outside of their immediate family unit. If indeed they’re lucky enough to have that family unit.

The mental health crisis already existed, but it’s likely to be significantly worse as a result of the coronavirus, which again will put further strain on the NHS and make it far more difficult for people to get the treatment they need.

What can you do to stop this affecting you and your family?

With waiting lists sure to be drastically longer, less face-to-face care, more competition for public funding and an increase of mental health problems, the strain on the NHS isn’t going to go away overnight.

Instead, it’s a problem that’ll last years, if not decades.

Which means that to get high quality, flexible care quickly, you’ll need a plan for how you’re going to get it.

Your plan for high-quality healthcare in a post-coronavirus world

As stated above, getting high quality, flexible care from the health service is going to be problematic, for years to come, so if that’s important to you, you’re going to need a plan to ensure you can get it elsewhere.

Which means “going private”.

People access private healthcare in one of two ways:

  • Pay as you go
  • Medical insurance

The two options both have merits, and the one you choose will depend on your specific situation.

Pay as you go private healthcare will see you paying per treatment, whether it’s a routine GP appointment, or something more serious, like a hip or knee operation.

Bear in mind that this type of healthcare can be extremely costly – a 15-minute GP appointment is likely to cost between £70 and £100, while the average cost for a hip operation costs over £10,000.

For those with lots of disposable income, ‘pay as you go’ could well be a sensible option, but the majority of people are unlikely to have that amount of money available.

And if you’re one of those people, taking out private medical insurance could be a sensible alternative.

Rather than paying significant lump sums for treatment you need, you simply pay a monthly premium that covers you (and your family if you want) for medical treatment.

If you need treatment, all you’ll pay is a small excess, like with other insurances, and the rest will be covered by your insurance company, as long as the treatment you needed is included in your policy.

And by taking out private medical insurance, you’re solving the problem of having to rely on the health service in the post-coronavirus world.

If that sounds like a plan to you, then here’s what you need to do next:

1.Review your situation

Are you in a position to be able to spend thousands of pounds on an operation or procedure if you or your family need it?

If so, and you don’t like the idea of monthly insurance payments, then ‘paying as you go’ might well be the best option.

But if your financial situation is such that you’ll struggle to pay one-off fees for treatment, then private medical insurance could be your best bet.

Whatever your situation is, it’s essential to review and understand what the right option for you and your family is.

2. Decide on your solution

Once you’ve evaluated the options, you need to decide on the right solution for you and take action.

If you’re going down the ‘pay as you go’ route, where are you going to keep the funds you’ll need to pay for care?

It needs to be easily accessible, which means that investing it in schemes that are difficult to withdraw from, isn’t sensible.

One option is to put it in the bank, but the reality is that with interest rates at an all-time low, that money will accrue very little interest, and will end up being worth less over time.

If you’re opting for private medical insurance, you need to start to think about what you want your policy to cover.

The majority of policyholders don’t tend to cover cancer care, as the NHS offers very high quality and prompt attention.  However, with the current pressure on the health service, that might well change in the future.

It’s also essential to ensure that your policy covers everything you want it to – please read the small print and make sure that everything you’ll be able to claim on everything you want to.

3. Consider your budget

If you are opting for private medical insurance, you’ll need to consider your budget – how much can you afford to pay out each month?

Generally speaking, premiums are less than people think they are. Still, we’d always recommend speaking with an advisor who can help you to understand what affects the cost of your premium, and how you can get the best possible deal.

When budgeting, think about your other outgoings vs your income. 

How much disposable income is there, and what can you afford to invest in your premium?

It’s also worth questioning some of your existing outgoings, and considering whether private medical insurance should be prioritised over them.

4. Get a ballpark figure

Once you’ve got an idea of your budget, the next step is to get a sense of how much insurance is likely to cost.

We’ve put together a simple calculator tool that’ll give you an indication of the kind of monthly investment you can expect to make – click HERE to use it now.

5. Speak to an advisor

Speaking to an advisor is a hugely important piece of the puzzle. Unfortunately, not enough people do it, ending up with a premium that’s either more expensive than it needs to be, or doesn’t adequately provide for your specific needs.

When you speak to an advisor:

  • You get a broader and better choice of insurance products
  • You’ll be better protected – advisors are highly qualified and heavily regulated
  • You’ll get the best price – it’s never cheaper to go direct
  • You’ll save time – using someone who knows what they’re doing will ensure you quickly find the right solution for you
  • You’ll have a backup – advisors can help if the unlikely event that your insurer ever did try to deny a claim

At Sustainable Healthcare UK, we have a network of some of the best medical insurance advisors around, and we’ll gladly put you in touch with one.

To schedule an appointment with an advisor, just click HERE and fill in a few details.

And one final piece of advice:

Whatever you do, don’t do nothing.

It’s a fact that the NHS is going to be recovering from the strain placed on it by the coronavirus for many years to come, and if you don’t want to be collateral damage, then you need to take action.

If you’re serious about securing high quality healthcare for you and your family, please don’t do nothing, please take action now.

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