Much as we love to reduce our clients’ premiums this is all forgotten when somebody is unfortunately dealing with ill health and needing to claim. If we can support a client by explaining the insurer’s claims process, then great and if we also have knowledge about how the private health sector works then that’s even better.

It’s relatively easy to explain to somebody the process of seeing an out-patient consultant for a physical problem and then how any in-patient treatment may unfold but psychiatric issues are not usually so simple or as publicly discussed.

More and more the issues surrounding mental health are becoming more transparent and seemingly more common and so we wanted to delve deeper into the options for treatment available hence our visit to The Priory Hospital in Bristol.

Nationally the Priory group has 13 hospitals and 8 Wellbeing centres spread around the UK. In Bristol the out-patients are all private, whilst on the other hand the 85 in-patient beds are nearly all taken up by the NHS, this gives some indication of how the NHS is struggling as typically only 30% of a general private hospital’s services are supplied to the NHS.

Most private patients are engaging with the Priory as out-patients or day-patients and medical insurance is usually footing the cost.

The cost for a self-pay patient for an overnight stay would be around £900 a night and an average length of stay would be 1-3 weeks. With certain insurers that have annual policy limits of between £15000 to £20000 you can see this amount would be swiftly used up. Out-patient therapy sessions are usually a minimum of 6 weeks with an average of 12-18 sessions, initial assessment costs are around £150.

Each insurer negotiates their rates with the Priory and with the larger insurers probably getting the best deals this is a reason to go with one of the bigger players if mental health is a major consideration. The hospital group also state how important a good working relationship is with the insurers so that treatments are not compromised by needing to fit in with an insurer’s billing processes. Clearly the patient’s needs should come first.

With the Mental Health Foundation stating 1 in 8 sickness days are because of mental health what can you do as a business to reduce this burden?

The advice from the Priory’s Day-care Lead, Debbie Longsdale;

  1. Promote open discussions in your business about mental health.
  2. Internally promote the support services that you have in place be that via an Employee Assistance Programme or via your Health Insurance provider.
  3. Encourage early treatment via therapists as early intervention can minimise the chances of extended periods of absence.

Our thanks go out to Placement Specialist, James Hannam who arranged our visit and for us to meet with Debbie Longsdale.

If you’d like to find out what support services are available from the UK health insurers then please get in touch.

The Priory Group;

Ashley Woodrow

Health Insurance Advisor.