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Private hospital treatment: What to consider

Guide to going private - doctor with child

Find out as much as possible about the procedure you are interested in having and compare services, treatments, costs and credentials of private healthcare providers as different techniques or materials may be used.  


For self paying patients (those without private health insurance, or when private health insurance won’t cover the procedure/treatment, one of the first things to consider is the cost of the operation/treatment.  Many inclusive surgery packages cover the hospital charges for the operation and the hospital stay, the consultant’s fees for the operation and a follow-up consultation, but get these points clarified in advance; sometimes the initial consultation is excluded, which typically costs between £100 and £200. 


Contact the hospital’s patient services/customer services department if there is anything you are not sure about.  One of the main points to check is the refund policy in case you change your mind (particularly with cosmetic surgery) or if a pre-existing medical condition causes the surgery to be cancelled.  The quotation is usually valid for a period of time to give the patient time to decide or investigate other options.


For the self paying patient, you should consider how to finance the operation- will you need a medical loan, or does the provider offer a payment plan?  Some providers allow customers to spread the cost in monthly installments (BMI offer a Personal Payment Card with interest free credit on hospital charges for the first six months) so find out what is available to you. 


Private health insurance patients should check with their health insurance company who have detailed schedules in place for all common procedures and will be able to tell you what is covered by your scheme, and if there are extra charges that you will have to pay.  Any discrepancies between the information from your insurer and the hospital should be clarified before treatment commences.


Decide when and where to have the operation/procedure.  Enquire about availability (the length of wait for your appointment may depend on how busy the consultant is, and locate the best hospital for your needs (some have specialist services for particlar types of surgery. See the sections on how to choose a provider and check out a hospital.  You will need to consider how much time you can take away from work/family commitments, how long you will be hospitalised, as well as what the general recovery time and success rate for your procedure is, and any potential complications.  Try to be as flexible with your schedule as you can as you may have to stay longer if a complication does occur.  Raise these issues at the consultation.

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