As a freelancer getting private health insurance can seem impossible. After all, you work unconventional hours, earn a different amount each month, and can sometimes struggle to find financial freedom. That’s why I am so grateful to the NHS, for helping me get treatments for my physical and mental health, when I couldn’t afford private health insurance. However, I quickly realized that the waiting times to be seen on the NHS is monumental. Even when I was battling mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, and PTSD, as well as a chronic stomach condition, it took what seemed like forever to get help. Considering I wasn’t diagnosed with mental health issues until I was 22, but had symptoms from 6 years old, it seemed like a lifetime. And don’t even get me started on getting seen, when you have a stomach condition. However, I truly am appreciative of everything that the NHS has done for me over the years, and continue to be grateful. After all, they quite literally saved my life. I just had to wait a long time for it.
When I waited to get ‘mental health’ help after harming myself physically, and emotionally, at times I had to wait nearly two years for therapy. That’s not OK. Although I am in a place where I am no longer suicidal, there were times, where I was. Our mental health system is seriously underfunded, and the same goes for physical care as well. It took almost 7 years for me to get officially diagnosed with a stomach condition, and be left to my own devices. I was told to manage my stomach through lifestyle changes, but there was little advice showing me how to actually look after myself. Even to this day, it is still hard to know whether I am doing the right thing for my mind and body. As a freelancer, the stress seems tenfold. Now I have to take care of myself, but not know whether I have a stable income coming in? How does that work?
I was always hesitant about private health insurance given my insecurities around money. After all, I had the NHS, and when I moved to London, my health care support system improved. I got diagnosed with both mental and physical illnesses, found my dream career, and realized what my triggers were, emotionally and physically. To date though, I am on the waiting list again. Not just for therapy, but also for health issues. For therapy, I was told I would need to wait up to 2 years for physcotherapy, and I waited around 9 months, before having two trial assessment sessions. I then got told, that I needed to wait again (for an undefined amount of time) , and it has been a further three months. As for the stomach condition? It has been over two years of back and forth, for something that I have had for a long time. Who knows how long it will be, which is why I am exploring private health care. Why? Because as a freelancer, I don’t get sick pay, days off, or a pension. If I am sick, I have to quite literally carry on working, because otherwise how will I pay my bills?
Admittedly, the first time I got referred for CBT, I had an appointment within 6 weeks, because I was in a very bad state. So I am grateful that they priortized my healthcare at that point. However, the next times that I had therapy, and was equally in a bad way, I had to wait for months, sometimes years. Nevertheless, considering how long it took for me to get diagnosed with mental and physical issues, I am beyond happy. That being said, with private health insurance, you can skip NHS waiting lists, and get treatment for eligible conditions exactly when you need it the most.
With more and more pressure being put on the NHS, getting private healthcare insurance could be a way for me to get more peace of mind when it comes to my health. Because I work for myself freelancing online, I want to have prompt treatment for medical issues, so that I can feel better. I don’t want to struggle through mental and physical pain, and feel like every day is a battle. I have learned to live with it, and have made some impressive lifestyle changes, but at the same time, there is still a long way to go. With my mental health issues, it puts a strain on my physical health as well, and is not the best thing for my stomach condition. My anxiety makes my stomach feel worse, and my depression often makes me go back to ‘my old ways’, where my lifestyle habits were unhealthy, and did nothing for my emotional wellbeing.
In some companies in the UK, private health care is given as part of your ‘work package’, but this is not the case for freelancers. Being your own boss means that you have one of two options: either get treatments through the NHS (which I have done up until this point), or get private health care. Despite the ups and downs I have had with the NHS, I still think it is an amazing service. The fact that we get free healthcare, when so many people have to choose between ‘food and health’, is mind-blowing. However, the long waiting times is definitely a downside. It is understandable because it is coming under increasing strain and pressure with people living longer and more treatments and drugs becoming available. At the same time, if you have a life threatening illness, this can seem scary.
Thankfully, despite my issues, they are in a stable condition (with the exception of my mental health). But the more I research private health care, the more attractive it seems. After all, I am no longer in a position where I am in debt, struggling to pay my rent, and choosing between food, and bills. Although I am not earning a lot, at the same time, I have been able to save money, which I have put towards my health. So why should you as a freelancer also consider private health insurance?
Faster Treatment Access
No matter what kind of healthcare problem you might be dealing with, having private healthcare insurance enables you to see a healthcare professional and access treatment faster compared to on the NHS. When you are a freelancer, you literally do not get paid when you are sick. Having to wait for treatment on the NHS for diagnoses, or non-urgent procedures, can be exhausting. The NHS waiting times are only getting longer, with some patients waiting several years for treatments like non-urgent hip or knee replacements, or even a diagnosis for certain conditions like With private medical insurance, you can bypass the long waiting lists and get your treatment much faster from Circle Health Group. Circle Health Group offers a wide range of private healthcare treatments that are covered by most insurance plans including knee and hip replacements, general surgeries, cancer treatments, gynaecology, and more.
However, many private health care providers do not include ‘mental health’, as part of their care package which is quite shocking. After all, over time, neglecting your mental health, can lead to severe health conditions and heart problems such as high-blood pressure, and heart disease. Without good mental health, it is harder to fight off chronic diseases, and chronic pain. Mental health issues can lead to joint pain, back pain, chest pain, stomach issues, and breathing issues. Left untreated, this can get worse, as you get older. At the Circle Health Group, they offer treatments such as Mindfulness Based Therapy (MBT), Hypnosis Therapy, and Psychology, to name a few. They also offer CBT (which I wholly reccomend as a therapy treatment), trauma resolution therapy, and Qigong Therapy, which I have always wanted to try.
For me, as a freelancer, looking after my mental health is extremely important. After all, working from home, or on the go, makes me aware of how severe my mental health issues are. When you have faster treatment access, you can get to the root of the problem. I wish it didn’t take so many years for me to get help, when I had been suffering for a long time. Although it helped me grow as a person, having treatment sooner, would have helped navigate me through adult life, more seamlessly. If I had private healthcare sooner, I would have continous support, and help, without gaps in my treatment. I am sure that the lack of consistiency in my healthcare programme, has made me find it difficult to overcome my barriers. What I am more worried for, is the people who have life threatening issues. Having to wait for treatment, when you have a terminal, or advanced illness, must be scary. That is why my Aunty (who had stage three stomach cancer) , went private and had amazing heath care at the Royal Marseden, who we are so thankful for. She has been cancer free for several years now, and found that going private was the best option for her. While she started on the NHS, she transferred over to private.
Privacy And Comfort
If you have ever had surgery, been taking into the emergency ward, or had an overnight stay in hospital, you often share a ward with other patients.With private treatment, you get access to private facilities, where you can enjoy your own room. Family and friends can usually visit whenever they like rather than having to stick to designated visiting times, and you will get a good night’s sleep in a room that is private, comfortable, and clean, which is ideal if you are recovering from surgery or another type of medical treatment. No matter whether you are in for non-urgent treatment, or are recovering from a long-term illness, having your own room can make a world of difference.
Although it is great to make friends on the ward, when you are ill, having your own space, can help speed up your recovery. After all, being around your loved ones can do you the world of good. What’s more private health insurance also gives you confidentiality. You have the knowledge that noone will be intruding your personal space, your rooms, or any of your belongings. For example, as a freelancer, if you are recovering in your own room, you might want to chat with friends and family online, or even do a spot of work. Doing that on a ward can seem impossible, especially if you are worried about data breaches, and people accessing your personal information.
Having your own room means you have access to things like your computer, books, notebooks, and anything else that will help you get through your treatment. Of course work is the last thing you want to think about when you are having treatment. But for some people even something as simple as a Skype call with their loved ones can lift their spirits and bring joy. If, like me, you feel uncomfortable in a clinical environment, then having your own space, will help you feel calmer.
Access To Latest Treatments And Facilities
When you have private medical insurance, you will have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can benefit from getting the latest proven treatments and licensed medications if they are needed. For example, this might include getting access to cancer drugs that are not available on the NHS, and other treatments that are only an option when you go private. After all, the NHS is a public- funded body with limited resources. There is high-demand, which leads to long waits for patients, and a limited choice of treatments.
With private health care, there is no compromise on comfort during recovery. Because self-paying clients them, private hospitals can purchase the newest and most effective treatments, as well as hiring leading consultants. Of course private health care is not without its faults. I find it unfair that private healthcare offers more access to newer therapies, treatments, and facilities, than on the NHS. After all, people on lower incomes are less likely to be able to take out health care insurance. Although I am considering private health care now, I was not able to afford it for most of my professional life. Why? Because I simply wasn’t earning enough. Even now, I am not earning enough as a freelancer, but the difference is that I have savings now. Sure, I could spend it on other things, but my health is becoming a huge priority in my life. I am looking into private therapy, while I wait for my long-term psychotherapy, and will have greater access to treatments and facilities.
To put it into perspective, the amount of time it takes me to get an appoinment on the NHS, could mean the end of my treatment plan going private. This gives me more time to get back to my career, and personal life. It allows me to throw myself into freelancing, without the impending fear of appointments, test results and surgeries looming over my head. I would be seen quicker, get my treatment and medication faster, and be able to recover in high-quality facilities.
With private health care, you can have a wider range of choices when it comes to when and where you are treated, unlike the NHS where it’s usually a case of patients being fitted in whenever possible, which may not always work with your schedule. There are usually more appointments available with private healthcare that you can choose from based on when suits you best, which can be ideal if you have a busy lifestyle. For me the idea of having private health care appeals to me, because I work long hours, and have a hectic lifestyle. It would allow me to have greater flexibility over arranging appointments that suit me, without putting me out of work.
You have more choice over the types of treatment you receive, are able to choose your surgeon/ hospital/ service, and you can get the scans that you want, when you want them. With 46.8% of patients looking at waiting times of up to 18 weeks to begin treatment on the NHS, the pandemic had a clear impact on waiting times too. Even to get a doctor to call you back, you can sometimes wait 2 weeks, for a 10 minute phone call. With private (depending on the issue), you can get a private GP appointment the same or next day. And after your consultation, you could be booked in for surgery or treatment just a few days after that. As a freelancer, this would give you peace of mind, knowing that you will get medical attention sooner, and be able to return to work quicker.
Simple Claims Process
Having a simple claims process, is also what attracts me to private health care. If you need to get medical treatment or see a specialist for any reason, claiming on your private medical insurance is quite a simple and easy process. Once you know that you will need to claim, simply give your healthcare insurance company a call. They will confirm that it is covered and make all the arrangements to pay for your care so that you do not get a bill. Some insurance companies can even refer you to consults that are covered by the plan and are experts in your condition. This means that there is less paperwork, less confusion, and more clarity.
As a freelancer, I don’t have a lot of time, so knowing that my health care would be simplified, would reassure me. It would give me more freedom to do the things I love. Above all, it would take a big weight off my shoulders, knowing that I am no longer under pressure. It can be so easy to get bogged down, and feel overwhelmed. Especially when healthcare is often confusing, and there is a lot of terminology, and technical aspects that can be hard to understand. With a simple claims process, your bill will be sent to your insurer after your treatment. They will either pay the entire amount, or part of the expenses. The main goal would be to ensure that you have less excess to pay. Of course, you have to wait until your claim is granted, but the process gets easier from there. Your insurer will either refer you to a specialist, or you can find one yourself.
Sure it might not seem like the most obvious benefit of private health care, but it is very important. Just like the right phonecall with a GP can transfer you to get treatment, private healthcare can do so too. With many private healthcare insurance policies, you will also get access to around-the-clock phone support service which you can use to get answers to any healthcare problems or concerns that you might have. This can be an ideal alternative to using the NHS 111 service which is often overloaded with long waiting times to speak to somebody who can help, which is never ideal if you are in pain or discomfort.
I have used NHS 111 and found it extremely helpful, but you can sometimes wait several hours to get a call back. If your situation gets worse, this can have a huge impact on your physical and mental health. Private phone support, gives you excellent customer service, when you need it. If they feel like you need a consultation, referral, or immediate support, they can transfer you to get the help you need quickly. There is little to no waiting time, and you are able to get to the root of the problem faster.
One On One Personalised Care
For me, having the personal touch is important for me to recover. Whether it is treatment for mental or physical health, it is important to feel seen and heard. I have had both ‘group therapy’ sessions, and ‘one on one sessions’, and I always prefer independent sessions. Why? Because my case is so specific to me. My trauma, and my issues are not something I like to discuss in a group. While you can have independent therapy during NHS treatment, private health-care gives you longer, targeted therapy sessions. It is the same for physical health as well. You have a call with your GP, explain your issue, and have one of two scenarios. You are either dismissed, and told to come back if your situation is improved. Or you make headway but have to wait sometimes months, to get treatment.
Obviously, it is not the GP’s fault, as they have to make tough decisions on whose healthcare they priortize. But with a private consultant, they are able to spend more time with patients. You often get the same consultant during your health journey, which allows you to feel at ease. The personal touch can go a long way in making a patient feel comfortable. There is no judgement, no shame or fear. What’s more, you don’t have to keep explaining yourself over and over again. Your consultant knows your medical history, and understands what the best treatment plan for you is. With your personalized care package, you can also get access to cover extras. Along with covering hospital treatments and specialist consultations, many plans allow you to choose from a range of additional cover options including travel insurance, private GP appointments, and dental or optical cover. When you work for yourself, it can come as a relief knowing that your personalized care covers additional extras.
Speaking of cover, getting flexible cover as a freelancer is a must. Private health insurance, allows you to choose cover options to suit your needs. Whether you are looking for a comprehensive plan or are simply looking for a simple policy that can pick up the bill if you decide to get hospital treatment privately, there are many different options available to suit your needs. You can also find plenty of budget-friendly cover options to keep the cost of private healthcare insurance down. When you work for yourself, it is important to ensure that you don’t ‘live beyond your means’. Having budget friendly cover, gives you peace of mind
So what does your private healthcare cover? If you become ill or injured during the policy’s term, it will cover private medical care, testing, and surgery. Policies are often used to treat acute, curable, and short-term illnesses. The premium is the amount you pay for your health insurance every month. Flexible cover, gives you payment plan options that meet your needs. You could pay up-front (if you can afford to), choose an excess, or fix your subscription for a certain period of time. For me personally, being able to save money would be a huge relief. After all, although I know the NHS is free, at the same time, private health-care would give access to care quicker. The quicker you get seen, the more money you save in the long-run. I truly believe that investing in your physical and mental health is the best investment you could make.
Do You Have Private Health Insurance?
Please note this is a collaborative post but all thoughts are my own, and are not affected by monetary compensation.