When it comes to health insurance in countries that have national healthcare plans, residents are often faced with an important dilemma. Do you rely solely on the government’s system, or do you pay extra for private health insurance? While many in lower income households are left to rely on the former, those with a bit extra have the option to really consider the latter. With all that national healthcare plans tend to cover, the bigger question becomes, “What benefits do I receive with private insurance that I cannot get with national insurance?” Depending on how much extra coverage you purchase, the benefits can outweigh the higher costs of private premiums.

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The biggest benefit is reduced wait times.

For countries that have national insurance plans, the biggest complaint of patients is the amount of time they have to wait for care. Non-life threatening problems, such as a toothache, can take weeks or months to be treated through national healthcare systems. However, having private insurance would mean the problem was taken care of promptly, and often within days. The only other option to reduce wait times is to pay fully out of pocket for medical expenses. For minor or rare incidents, paying out of pocket can be a much cheaper alternative to any kind of insurance. Unfortunately though, for major incidents, or any manner of procedure that is deemed medically unnecessary, the costs out of pocket can be quite severe.

Private insurance offers more in depth medical treatment.

With private insurance, patients have access to more treatment and diagnostic options. National healthcare plans tend to be very restrictive in which tests, scans, and doctors are available. Private health insurance allows patients access to a broader range of diagnostic tests, scans, and treatments. It also makes it possible to see specialists as desired. Patients with private health insurance can also request private rooms, instead of being treated and housed in wards with multiple patients, which can also be comprised of patients of the opposite sex. Private insurance can also widen the range of treatment facilities to choose from. With national healthcare, patients must be treated at designated offices and facilities.

The drawbacks to private health insurance:

While private health insurance does offer a lot of benefits in terms of convenience and treatment options, it does have some drawbacks. The cost of private health insurance is always higher than the annual contribution costs for national healthcare plans. For those who are just above the black in their personal finances, and who have little to no debt, considering private health insurance means taking into account the rising yearly costs of premiums. It also requires extra paperwork to keep up with, as opposed to just being assigned a national insurance number upon birth or a designated age. In most countries that have a national healthcare plan, enrollment and assignment is not optional. Residents automatically receive coverage, and tend to have varying degrees of benefits, which are dependent on how much above the standard they pay into it. For many, it is often simpler to put more into the national insurance than purchasing additional private coverage.