Providing medical cover for serving personnel comes under the responsibility of the MoD, but what happens when you leave? Peter Allen, former Royal Marines Officer and healthcare consultant, has the lowdown on how responsibility for care continues after active service
During active service, everyone in the Armed Forces has medical cover provided by the Defence Medical Services (DMS), the organisation within the MoD that ensures Service personnel are healthy, ready and medically ‘fit for task’. However, this excellent level of care does not normally continue when you leave the Services and injuries sustained during active service, whether as a regular or reservist, can often become a problem in later life.
Younger people tend to think nothing will go wrong with them and rightly know their medical needs will be met by the Service. Additionally, private medical and health insurance policies exclude cover for war and terrorism, so why would there be a need to take out private insurance?
There are actually many instances where private medical insurance for serving personnel can be beneficial.
If someone sustained an injury that hadn’t been due to enemy action (i.e. they had been injured in training, playing sport or while travelling) and this became a problem later in life after having left the Services, then seeking private medical insurance cover at this late juncture is very likely to be refused by the underwriters on the grounds of a previous medical condition. Most injuries sustained in the Forces (enemy action excluded) are either hip, knee or ankle-related, conditions usually associated with long NHS waiting lists. Taking out a low-cost policy before injuries are sustained, and maintaining it, will ensure cover for conditions at a later stage in life.
Families of serving personnel may not know this, but they are not entitled to medical or dental services from the MoD unless they are serving overseas on an accompanied basis. Dental and healthcare cash plan policies offer a very attractive private alternative to the scarce resource of NHS dentists and delays in state primary care provision.
Like everyone else, serving personnel and their families need travel insurance for holidays, and this can sometimes be harder to obtain as a travel policy that disregards any medical health history is required. If you happen to carry a host of health and injury problems then a policy that compensates is particularly advantageous.
The majority of people looking for insurance are retired or older Service personnel and their dependants, who understand the value of what private medical insurance provides, but younger Service people are increasingly recognising that they, too, need to ensure that their medical needs and those of their families are properly catered for. They hear and know that the biggest challenge comes when you eventually leave the Forces, for then you are traversing the rapids like the rest of us. This is where a specialist insurer can help.
The Health Insurance Group has formed a mutual partnership with the Forces Pension Society (FPS), a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns and lobbies for the pension rights of Service men and women – a relationship established for more than eight years. The Health Insurance Group provides FPS members with bespoke and discounted private medical, everyday health, dental and travel insurance policies provided by a range of insurers, including AXA PPP healthcare, Bupa and Medicash. Currently The Health Insurance Group insures more than 5,000 lives across its Armed Forces policies, and that number is growing.
Key to the relationship from the start was the fact that the FPS was keen to ensure that its policies, where possible, should not discriminate on the basis of age and that previous medical conditions should be covered. This has been achieved for the travel, dental and healthcare cash plan policies, and the UK and international medical insurance policies, while underwritten, have no age limit.
The closer ties also mean that FPS members benefit from a more intimate relationship with an established partner that truly understands the health needs of military personnel. Discussing health matters is personal and, at times, difficult, so anything that helps put someone at ease is welcome. The Health Insurance Group always makes sure these kinds of conversations take place with a trained adviser, not at all like the faceless internet transaction you might get elsewhere. We see it as a priority that FPS members know that they are being looked after.
Find out more …
If you are interested in finding out about the policies, please contact The Health Insurance Group on 01344 627602 or visit www.healthinsurancegroup.co.uk/forces
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter Allen, a former Royal Marine who served in Europe, the Far East, South Africa and the Middle East, is founder and MD of PBGM Consultancy Ltd, and consultant and mentor to The Health Insurance Group, which offers policies to serving and retired personnel of the Armed Forces and their families.
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