Health insurance for people with HIV

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Key points

  • If you took out a policy before being diagnosed with HIV, it should still be valid.
  • However, private medical insurance in the UK only covers medical conditions that respond quickly to treatment – HIV and other chronic conditions are excluded.
  • After diagnosis with HIV, it may be possible to get private medical insurance, but the costs of any illness linked to a pre-existing condition would be excluded.

Most UK residents are entitled to free health care from the NHS. Private medical insurance supplements what’s available on the NHS. It is designed to pay for private treatment of medical conditions that respond quickly to treatment (usually called ‘acute’ conditions), as well as elective surgery and medical tests. It does not cover treatment for HIV and any related conditions.

There are two main types of policies – full medical underwriting or moratorium.

Can you take out health insurance with full medical underwriting if you have HIV?

When applying, you will need to complete a detailed medical questionnaire and you may need to give permission for your GP to be contacted. It can take up to three months for the insurance company to gather the information they need and assess an application.

Some insurers will offer cover, but exclude treatment for any illness that is linked with HIV. Other companies will reject the application if you have HIV.

It’s not a good idea to withhold information about your HIV status or to lie when applying for insurance. Insurance can be cancelled for non-disclosure. You risk wasting money on a policy that will not pay out when you make a claim. Insurance companies are bound by data protection law and must keep your medical information strictly confidential.

Can you take out health insurance with a moratorium if you have HIV?

With a moratorium policy, there is no medical questionnaire at the application stage.

Instead, the policy automatically excludes pre-existing conditions – those which were diagnosed or caused symptoms before you took out the policy. While the policy will usually state that a condition which doesn’t cause symptoms or require treatment during the first two years of the policy (the moratorium period) will subsequently be covered, this is not helpful for HIV, which requires ongoing treatment.

If you make a claim, your medical history will be closely examined to see if the health problem is new or linked to a pre-existing condition.

Can you get health insurance through your employer if you have HIV?

Some employers offer health insurance as part of an employee benefits package. Most often, cover will be offered on a moratorium basis, as described above. Less often, it may be a ‘medical history disregarded’ policy. In either case, there won’t be a medical questionnaire and having HIV would not exclude you from the policy, but the costs of treating HIV and associated illnesses would not be covered.

Alternatively, the policy could be offered with full medical underwriting (i.e. a medical questionnaire), as described above.

If your employer offers health insurance as a benefit, you can request to see the application form and policy document. In most cases, there won’t be any questions about pre-existing conditions. If you would not feel comfortable sharing the completed application with your employer, you could ask to submit it directly to the insurer or broker in confidence.

Will health insurance still be valid if you are diagnosed with HIV?

If you took out a policy before you were diagnosed with HIV, there is no need to inform the insurer that your health status has changed. So long as you continue to pay the premiums, you will continue to be covered.

In this situation, it’s usually a good idea to hang on to the policy. If you cancel it and then decide at a later date that you would like to be insured, it may be harder and more expensive to get cover. Don’t cancel the policy without thinking carefully and getting professional advice.

Will health insurance cover HIV treatment?

As HIV is a long-term chronic condition, the costs of HIV treatment are excluded from most policies. Policies do not cover pre-existing conditions – anything which was diagnosed or caused symptoms before you took out the policy.

This page reflects the personal finance market in the UK.

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