If you are thinking about taking out some kind of private medical insurance, it can be a hard area to know where to start. There are many policies and products on the market, which can make choosing the right cover for your own individual needs confusing.

Private medical insurance will ensure that you and your family can be secure in the knowledge that if you fall ill or require medical attention you will receive it treatment quickly, in comfort and will be provided with a greater choice of where and when you can get care.

For example, if you need an operation, you will not be delayed by long waiting lists and will be given a prompt date for when the operation will be carried out. If you need an X-ray or scans, this will happen quickly at a hospital and time of your choice. You may even get to decide on who your specialist surgeon will be. Other benefits of private medical insurance can include a private room with a TV, choice of food and unrestricted visitor times.

Deciding on the right policy will depend on the price of premium you are willing to pay to make sure your own needs are covered. Premiums vary from lost cost schemes with limited cover to more comprehensive plans, which cover more so will cost more.

Some of the treatment and attendance jargon can also make choosing the right scheme difficult, so it is important to know what it all means.  When referring to an in-patient, it denotes when you stay overnight on one or more nights whilst receiving treatment or being examined.

There is only a slight difference between what is meant by an out-patient and a day patient, but some policies will not cover for out-patient visits as the patient spends a briefer time in care. An out-patient refers to people making a brief hospital visit for treatment or tests, which generally last a couple of hours and they do not need an overnight stay. A day patient, which is sometimes referred to as ‘day care’ or ‘day case’ signifies when you go into hospital for treatment or tests, do not stay overnight, but are in for a longer amount of time, possible 5 – 6 hours.

The cover available will generally be for in-patient tests, surgery, hospital accommodation and nursing if required. Sometimes, cover does stretch to things like out-patient consultations with a specialist, out-patient tests, overseas cover and cash payments for any care received as an NHS in-patient. The things that are not normally covered include A&E services, GP services, treatment for pre-existing conditions and cover for long-term incurable illnesses.

If you think you are ready to look for private medical insurance, there are a number of companies offering this type of cover so it is important to shop around for the best deals on the market.