You may be surprised to learn that while your health insurance policy will cover for your physical illnesses and injuries, it may not be so forthcoming in relation to mental health problems. Generally there is only a limited psychiatric benefit included in the core component of your policy. Some insurers choose to exclude psychiatric problems completely, while with others there is a limited outpatient allowance but nothing for an in-patient stay. Most insurers offer an additional psychiatric benefit, but often policyholders neglect to take option, as they mistakenly believe their insurance covers them for mental health problems already.
What is psychiatric benefit?
Psychiatric benefit is an additional option you can take out alongside your medical insurance policy. You can choose to add or remove this benefit at the end of each policy year.
It includes cover for outpatient therapy appointments, including psychoanalysis, cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling.
Day patient cover for any day patient psychiatric sessions or group activities your specialist wants you to attend.
In patient cover for stays in a private psychiatric hospital, including any drugs or treatment you may need while you’re there.
What does psychiatric benefit cover?
It covers a huge range of diagnosed psychological conditions such as:
- Depression and post-natal depression
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Bi-polar disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Child psychology issues
- Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia
- Panic attacks
A large variety of established treatments and therapies are included such as:
- Psychoanalytic therapy
- Cognitive behavioual therapy
- Group therapy
- Drug therapy
- Electro-convulsive therapy
What doesn’t the psychiatric benefit cover?
It doesn’t cover you for anything you’ve been excluded from due to your underwriting. So say you submitted a medical declaration when you initially applied for cover and depression was excluded, you wouldn’t be able to claim for this. However you would still be able to make a claim for an unrelated psychiatric condition such as schizophrenia.
There is no benefit on the policy for any kind of drug or alcohol abuse. However it’s still best to contact your insurer if you are going through a problem related to this. Your insurer may be able to offer you cover if you are suffering from depression or another mental health condition alongside this.
There is no cover for any kind of experimental psychiatric treatment.
The psychiatric benefit under the policy has a limit attached to it. This means you will only be entitled to a limited quantity of private treatment, either up to a specified value, number of sessions or days of in-patient stay.
Do you really need a psychiatric benefit on your policy?
Consider the fact that during their lifetime 1 in 4 people will suffer from anxiety or depression.
No-one likes to think that they will need psychiatric treatment in the future. Mental health conditions still have a high degree of stigma attached to them, with some people even refusing to acknowledge the existence of mental illnesses altogether. However consider the fact that during their lifetime 1 in 4 people will suffer from anxiety or depression and you can see the huge scope of the problem.
The current provision of mental health services on the NHS is saturated. This means although mental health treatment is available, there are long waiting lists with simply not enough therapists available to cope with the massive demand. Private cover can give you speedy access to the treatment you need.
Advantages of psychiatric cover
- Peace of mind.
- Valuable alternative to the NHS.
- No waiting lists so speedy access to the treatment you need.
- Cover for a wide rang of mental health problems.
- You can choose your own psychiatrist or therapist, just make sure they are registered with your insurer first.
Disadvantages of psychiatric cover
Increased premiums – This makes it hard for some people to justify the extra cost.
No cover for drug and alcohol addiction.
Limited benefits – once you have used your benefit for the year there is no further cover until the next policy year.
Not suitable for long term care – Only cover for acute mental health problems.
No cover for psychiatric drugs at home, the only cover is for in patient stays.
Generally psychiatric benefit is worthwhile for the peace of mind it gives policyholders. Now you can be safe in the knowledge you and your family are covered for both mental and physical health problems. Although the NHS offers a great service, the mental health provision is under considerable strain and private treatment can provide fast access to the treatment you need. Selecting this benefit now could be a lifesaver in the event of a mental health crisis.
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