What does the NHS cover?
What does the NHS cover?
By Fiona Macrae
I found the piece from Kristy Fisherman very interesting with regards the pitfalls in getting what you are entitles to treatment wise after a breast cancer diagnosis in America. I must admit I thought that everything would be covered under the private medical insurance (PMI) plan you paid for in America, but it is probably similar to buying PMI in this country, not all policies are the same and you really need to make sure you’re buying the correct policy for your needs. However having to correct PMI plan in the UK isn’t as important as it is in the USA because we will always have the good old NHS picking up the slack.
I had all of my breast cancer treatment on the NHS, apart from one scan (a liver scan) which I paid for privately, £600, because there was a 6 week wait for an appointment and without the results of the scan they couldn’t effectively plan my treatment. This cost would have been picked up by a PMI policy, if I’d had any, which I didn’t, so it was the credit card to the rescue.
I can honestly say that my treatment with the NHS was gold star all the way, and when the NHS works it is fantastic. However, I was very vocal and knew what I wanted and what I was entitled to; I knew I could have my treatment at a hospital of my choice. I chose St Bartholomews in London, it had a dedicated breast cancer centre, the West Wing, I wanted to be one of the many they treated and not one of the few at my local hospital. I also knew that I wanted a plastic surgeon to do my reconstruction and not the breast surgeon. I wanted someone whose concern would be the cosmetic outcome of the reconstruction and whose expertise was the cosmetic outcome. The breast surgeons do a wonderful job, but their job is to make sure the surgery they performs eradicates the cancer, I am not saying they don’t care what the cosmetic outcome is, but it is not their primary concern. All this is available on the NHS, but I have spoken to many people who have said that they weren’t aware they could move their treatment to a hospital or clinic of their choice or that they could request that a plastic surgeon do their reconstruction, as great as our NHS is you do really need to know you entitlements and argue for what you want.
Where the NHS can fall down is funding certain cancer drugs, this is where the right (note: not all PMI policies will cover unlimited costs on drugs) PMI policy would come in useful. A PMI policy may give you more access to the newer and more expensive cancer drugs, which many NHS trusts just can’t afford to fund.
Reading through Kristy’s piece does make me really glad we do have the NHS; however, it does hi-light the need to have a comprehensive travel insurance policy that fully covers cancer if you are travelling to the USA.
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