APRIL UK has launched a new plan designed to help consumers to afford private healthcare by offering cash back for self-pay treatment at any UK private hospital. Customers pay for their treatment then get reimbursed up to the benefit limit of their chosen level of cover. The plan offers three levels of cover (called Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3) and the plan’s three key benefits are:
Diagnostic cover. This pays up to £750-£1,500 a year (depending on level of cover chosen) for private GP appointments, consultations and tests (that includes PET, MRI and CT scans).
Self-Pay Package Cover. After GP or specialist referral, this benefit pays for self-pay packages arranged by a hospital up to £5,000-£10,000 a year, depending on cover level.
Therapies. This pays up to £200-£400 a year for physiotherapy, osteopathy, acupuncture, homeopathy and chiropractic treatment.
Exclusions are fairly typical and include treatment outside the UK, A&E treatment, injuries from participation in sport of any kind and pregnancy. Pre-existing conditions are excluded unless symptom free and having not received treatment or advice for that condition, for at least two years from the start date of the plan.
There is no medical underwriting and a simple pre-existing conditions clause applies.
The pricing structure is straightforward (following the cash plan model) but premiums are age-banded, so they increase each time the policyholder advances into an older band (the bands are set in ten year increments). Initial premiums range from £10 a month (based on Level 1 cover for an 18-29 year old) up to £80 a month (based on Level 3 cover for a 65-69 year old). The plan is available to UK residents between the ages of 18 and 69 inclusive.
Comment: APRIL UK is working hard to establish itself as a provider that offers more than ‘me too’ products. This plan recognises that conventional PMI is now too expensive for many people. Its offering in the budget PMI space is however different to that adopted by many other PMI insurers.
What it has done is to focus on three key areas – diagnostics, therapies and self-pay packages. Each is maximum benefit limited and the key thing to remember is that not all hospital treatment can be arranged on a self-pay basis (APRIL UK itself points out that cancer treatment often falls into this category).
But, accept the limitations and this plan – more of a top-up plan than the rather more traditional budget approach that can often just water down full PMI benefits – could be of real value to many people.
It won’t suit everyone but, if their budget is limited, it could provide very useful top-up cover for those who want PMI cover but can’t afford a full cost plan. It also has the potential to see lower premium rises than full cost PMI – but that will only emerge over time.
Plus points: Covers many of the things PMI would, but focuses on just three key areas; Simple to buy with no medical underwriting upfront; Less expensive than full cost PMI; Premiums start at just £10 a month for younger customers.
Not so plus points: Much narrower cover than full cost PMI; Maximum benefits are relatively low but are likely to cover most claims; Not all treatment is available on a self-pay package (cancer being one of the main ones); excluding all sports injuries is quite harsh.
Rating (max 10): Innovation: 9. Overall: 8. Gold
Tags: PMI; April UK