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Private Medical Insurance - What's it all About?

The origin of private medical insurance goes back a long way - before the NHS was formed. In pre-NHS days, people contributed to "friendly societies", which provided financial assistance to people in times of need. Some private medical insurance providers, such as BUPA, remain non-profit-distributing bodies, though there are also many commercial insurance companies providing private medical insurance these days. One of the best-known names in private medical insurance cover is AXA PPP healthcare - which was actually conceived in 1938 to provide a health insurance scheme for middle income earners in London.

The principal aim of private medical insurance is designed to cover treatment of "acute illness" - defined by Which? As "conditions which can be cured or substantially alleviated by treatment." Treatment of chronic illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis or arthritis, may not be covered by private medical; so critical illness insurance might be more suitable. Critical insurance cover will be based on your individual requirements - so shop around for the right policy and always be completely open with your insurance provider, or you may invalidate a claim at a later date.

Other treatments generally excluded from private medical insurance include cosmetic surgery, treatment for alcohol or drug abuse and infertility treatment. The majority of standard policies exclude private consultations of a GP, routine check-ups and dental work - unless it is undertaken in a hospital. However, always check your private medical insurance policy - as some will be more comprehensive than others.

Private medical insurance can be an effective way of ensuring swift access to medical care for your family. Just remember that insurance policies reflect your exact circumstances - so don't assume that one size fits all.

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