Self pay means exactly that. If you have to see a consultant about any sort of problem, you may require outpatient tests or a scan before treatment. You must then pay every bill out of your own pocket: you self pay!

As a ‘self pay’ patient, you can often agree a package price with a hospital and consultant and pay a fixed fee for a certain type of treatment and after care. Usually a hospital will agree a price with a maximum stay limit which may exclude any complications. This price will sometimes be cheaper than others might pay. But if you do happen to have complications, you may find yourself going onto a hospital’s normal day and overnight rate, which can be much higher than the rate you were charged in the package. The hospital should tell you what the costs will be should this happen.

The key thing is that the private sector gives you the choice to take this route and for non urgent operations, for example an orthopaedic procedure, you could ‘shop around’ or negotiate for a good price – especially if you are prepared to wait until the hospital is not too busy and has plenty of capacity, say at weekends or over a bank holiday. You must however tell your surgeon what you to do because he or she may not have agreed with a particular hospital to become part of a ‘self pay package’ as they are called.

It’s always worth asking if a package is available – it could save you a lot of money! It is worth noting that a survey (by Private Healthcare UK in their Self-Pay Market Study 2015) showed that self-pay patients may benefit significantly by shopping around. The range of prices offered for some procedures varies by more than 100% from the lowest to the highest. For example:
• A single area MRI scan varies across the UK from £200 to £813
• A private hip replacement varies across the UK from £8,883 to £14,981
• Private cataract surgery varies across the UK from £1,850 to £3,405

Clearly, price is not the only factor to take into account – it is your body and you need to make sure you get good attention by good folk!

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