It can be incredibly daunting when you don’t have enough money and you need to pay for parts of your child’s medical care. Read on to find some of the best budgeting tips and solutions for affording medical care, no matter your financial circumstances.
In the UK, we’re incredibly lucky that most of our medical care is funded by the NHS. It’s celebrated as one of the best and most prestigious healthcare systems in the world and our doctors and nurses work tirelessly to ensure we’re getting the best possible care.
Nevertheless, as with all healthcare systems, medical negligence does occur, and it can result in costing the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds each year. This, coupled with the increasing pressure from COVID-19, has meant that the NHS is stretched for money and resource. Patient waiting times in the UK are long, and as a result, many parents opt to pay for private healthcare so their child can get seen quicker.
In this article, we’ll explore what medical care is covered under the NHS, as well as offering five alternative solutions to affording more expensive cover. No matter your situation, rest assure you’re doing the best for your child and are considering all possible options.
What Medical Care is Covered by the NHS?
The NHS is free to use for those who are permanently or temporarily living in the UK (whether they are a British citizen or not). Unlike other countries, the majority of British citizens will not need to have healthcare insurance because of the services that the NHS covers; these include:
- Hospital admissions and treatments
- Minor injuries treatments (A&E)
- Doctor appointments
- Referred specialist treatments
- Sexual health services
- Maternity services
- Ambulance services
What Medical Care Isn’t Covered by the NHS?
Though the NHS is in effect a ‘free service’, it’s important to remember that it’s funded through taxation and national insurance. There is also a slight charge for services such as prescriptions and some dental and optometry appointments.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) assesses the clinical effectiveness and cost-efficiency of the drugs the NHS can use. In some cases, NICE will not recommend certain drugs because it decides that they’re too expensive.
Similarly, the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) recommends certain drugs depending on their effectiveness and financial efficiency in line with NHS budgets. THE CDF only operates in England, meaning cancer patients can receive different levels of cover across the UK and be offered different treatments depending on budget.
In some unfortunate cases, your child may have experienced a case of medical or clinical negligence and will be able to claim for a compensation claim. Cases of medical negligence vary but some examples include a missed or delayed diagnosis, incorrect prescriptions, surgical errors, and infections contracted in hospitals.
Though situations like this are uncommon, it’s good to be aware of medical negligence before considering your child’s healthcare options.
Private Medical Insurance
As a result of these discrepancies and restrictions in the NHS, thousands of patients’ opt-in for private medical insurance each year to ensure they are receiving the best possible care. Though more expensive in the short term, private medical insurance could ensure you see a doctor for your child in half the amount of time.
Some private hospitals have payment plans, so you don’t have to fork out for an operation or treatment in one lump sum. The interest rates are often high but if you want to spread the cost over a shorter period, you could consider taking out a 0% purchase credit card.
What’s more, money-saving websites such as Compare the Market and GoCompare will help you find the best insurance deals for your budget.
NHS Funding Schemes
The NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS) is a scheme that helps individuals and families receiving lower-income salaries. The scheme covers prescriptions, dental, eye care, healthcare travel costs and wigs and fabric support.
In England, the limit is £23,250 for people who live permanently in a care home OR, £16,000 for everyone else. Any help you’re entitled to is also available to your partner and any dependent children. To apply for the scheme, you will need to complete an HC1 form and post it to the address provided on their website.
Reduce Your Expenses
Though this might seem like an obvious point to make, it’s probably the most cost-effective way of being able to afford your child’s medical care. Try to make a conscious effort to cut down your weekly spending, whether that’s on luxuries or the family food shop.
Medical care expenses can come out of nowhere, so it’s best to be prepared and have a stash of savings in the bank in case something does arise. Work together as a family and prioritise what’s important to ensure that the whole family are aware.
Consider Medical Loans
Another way of potentially affording your child’s medical care is by taking out a loan to cover the upfront costs. Medical loans are available as either secured or unsecured borrowing and can be used for emergency surgery, dental work and more.
The amount that an individual can take out will depend upon their situation, but most loans range anywhere between £3,000 to £50,000. Repayment periods can vary between short term to long term, sometimes up to thirty years.
Companies providing private medical care often offer finance packages for treatment and it’s best to speak to them directly about your child’s situation. As with all loans, it’s advised to speak to your bank first and seek independent financial advice before making any final decision.
Do You Feel Better About Affording Your Child’s Medical Care?
In this article, we’ve discussed the pros and cons of public and private healthcare and attempted to offer some money-saving solutions for affording your child’s medical care. Though this list hasn’t been exhausted, it should help you gain a better understanding of the steps you need to take next. Best of luck!
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