9 April 2020

Coronavirus: Private Medical Insurance FAQs

By Aston Lark

For current Private Medical Insurance (PMI) policy holders, the COVID-19 outbreak may have impacted your coverage and raised questions about the range of elective treatments that are still available.

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions and answers to support you and your medical needs during this time.

Please note, this information is based on the latest updates from our insurers. We will keep monitoring the latest advice from the Government and update accordingly.

Using your policy

Are COVID-19 tests available through Private Medical Insurance (PMI)?

Testing for COVID-19 is not yet being made available by insurers.

Private hospitals and clinics are supporting the NHS from 30th March, what will this mean for private treatment?

  • It is likely that elective treatment in private hospitals will be postponed for the coming weeks
  • Insurers expect urgent private surgical treatments to continue at some private hospitals
  • Some private oncology and radiotherapy services will continue to operate
  • Inpatient private mental health services are expected to continue, day-patient or out-patient treatment will likely need to take place remotely

Which private services can I still access?

Insurers have indicated that members throughout the UK will continue to be able to access most other services that are available through their PMI plan. Depending on the insurer and chosen plan, this could include:

  • Consultations with specialists and practitioners over the phone and online (where clinically appropriate)
  • Cancer treatment at home (where appropriate)
  • Phone and online assessment and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions
  • Access to our 24/7 helplines staffed by nurses, midwives, pharmacists
  • Mental health support services, including access to counsellors and triage services
  • Cancer self-referral pathways
  • Phone and online access to private GP services
  • NHS cash benefit – this still applies if an employee does experience an emergency admission to an NHS facility (with or without a COVID-19 diagnosis) for treatment that would have been covered if they’d had it privately. If they are eligible to claim this benefit, the usual rules of the scheme apply

If members develop further problems as a result of COVID-19 would they be eligible to move to private care?

Yes. However, this would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, depending on eligibility and the health of the patient.

If someone goes on to develop a new issue related to COVID-19, would my plan cover this?

Members will be covered for all eligible treatment needed in the future, in line with the terms and conditions of their plan.

I am already in the process of receiving medical treatment, how will this be affected?

For the most serious types of treatment, insurers are liaising with members receiving ongoing complex treatment to ensure that their care is maintained. Private hospitals and consultants should also be in direct contact with patients to confirm treatment plans.

For less serious cases, the insurers recommend you speak directly with your treating consultant/therapist about the ability to continue treatment during this period.

What happens if my procedure/appointment is cancelled?

You need to notify your insurer of the cancellation/delay. Your consultant and hospital are best placed to provide you with the likely timescales involved in re-arranging.

I have already had treatment; will my invoice still be settled by the insurer?

Yes, they are processing claims in the same way as usual. Almost all invoices are shared with the insurers directly from the private hospital or consultant. If there is an excess for you to pay, this will be advised to you in the normal way.

What support is there from insurers for employees now working from home?

Please speak to your Aston Lark Consultant about the guidance and support being offered by your insurer.

Policy Admin

Will upcoming renewals be impacted?

PMI policies will renew as normal. Aston Lark and the insurers are all now working remotely and remain able to handle your renewal without any disruption.

Are there ways in which I can reduce the cost of my policy?

Yes, many insurers will have a range of options available at renewal or possibly mid-term, that will enable you to reduce your premiums. Please speak to your Aston Lark Consultant to discuss these.

Can I change my payment frequency?

There is no definitive answer to this yet, and it depends on your provider. Some providers are allowing clients to change payments mid-term, however, in some cases it will still incur a loading to do so. Please speak to your Aston Lark Consultant about the available options.

Can new members still be added to the policy?

Yes, this process will remain unchanged. Where medical declarations are required, if there is difficulty in printing and completing these, please speak to us about alternative solutions.

If we must make people redundant, can we continue their cover for a period?

There is no definitive answer to this yet, and it depends on your provider. There may be some options to continue cover as part of a redundancy agreement, please speak to your Aston Lark Consultant about the available options.

What about employees who have been furloughed, can they remain on cover?

Yes, if you are happy to continue paying their premium, then they will remain a policy member.

What happens if I cancel/freeze my policy now and then start it again after COVID-19 has cleared?

If your policy is underwritten, then cancelling and restarting it may mean beginning your underwriting again i.e. all conditions pre-dating the new policy start date will not be covered. However, the insurers are looking at options to support such measures, so please speak to your Aston Lark Consultant about the available options.

Should you have any further questions regarding your PMI policy, please contact your usual Aston Lark Employee Benefits representative. Alternatively, you can speak to the Aston Lark Employee Benefits team on 020 7543 2818 or email [email protected].

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