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Hip Replacements: Leaning on Health Insurance Coverage for unlocking mobility

Hip Replacements: Leaning on Health Insurance Coverage for unlocking mobility
A new hip is no longer viewed as a last resort; nor the preserve of the elderly. The latest prostheses last longer, recovery times continue to reduce, and many of the risks have been eliminated entirely.
Hip replacement is one of the most common elective surgical procedures in Britain; it has completely revolutionised arthritic hip treatment and is considered one of the most successful orthopaedic interventions of its generation.
Hip replacements have progressed significantly since 1891, when Professor Themistocles Glück first attempted to use ivory to replace the head of the femur, in patients whose hip joints had been destroyed by tuberculosis. These days the entire hip joint can be replaced, and patients can even be up and walking again within a day.
Patients no longer want to wait for treatment. Understandably so - chronic hip pain can have a devastating effect on quality of life. As a nation of active elders, patients aren’t just looking for a pain free night’s sleep. They want to get back on the golf course or the tennis court – and the sooner the better.

Why might you need a hip replacement?

Hip replacement surgery is usually required because the hip joint is worn or damaged, causing reduced mobility and pain even while resting. The most common reason for hip replacement surgery is osteoarthritis but other conditions can cause hip joint damage such as:
  • Hip fracture
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Septic arthritis
  • Bone dysplasia (disorders that cause unusual bone growth)

Hip replacements on the rise

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, 105,798 hip replacements were performed in 2022, up from 70,931 in 2010, according to figures from the National Joint Registry. [2]
According to projections in a study published in the Osteoarthritis and Cartilage journal, this trajectory is expected to continue. They predict the NHS will need to perform 439,097 hip replacements in 2035 to keep the population mobile and pain-free. [3]
This is no mean feat, and when Stephen Cannon, vice president of the Royal College of Surgeons, claimed the demand for joint replacement surgery would soon outstrip supply and the UK’s ageing population presented a ‘perfect storm’, few health practitioners disagreed with him. This was before the COVID-19 pandemic even began.

Why the increase?

More operations are required, because the causes of damage to hips are on the increase and the operation risks are on the decrease:
  • Osteoarthritis is the predominant cause of damage to the joint, and your risk of developing the disease increases with age. It’s no secret we have an ageing population in the UK - thus an increasing proportion are more susceptible to osteoarthritis in their hips.
  • Average BMI and obesity are also on the rise. Adult obesity in England rose from 15% in 1993 to 29% in 2017 [6]. The added strain on the joints from excess weight is particularly bad on hips and knees and increases the likelihood of osteoarthritis in the joints.
  • Improved prostheses, made of ceramic and polyethylene, have made treatments less daunting, by eliminating the risk of carcinogenic metal ions entering the blood and causing damage. They also last much longer, so don’t wear out and need replacing so often.
  • Reduced recovery times are also making hip replacements more attractive. Modern techniques cause less damage to the surrounding muscle and therefore heal quicker. Most patients are up and walking the same or following day - some have even been treated as outpatients, never even spending a night in hospital.

How do I skip the queue, what are my options?

If you don’t want to wait on an NHS waiting list, private healthcare offers prompt access to hip replacement treatments and the chance to skip the queue. Going private can also mean access to the latest ground-breaking techniques, including cutting-edge robotic technology, which enables highly accurate placement of personalised implants, smaller incisions and faster recovery times.
Private hospitals also offer increased flexibility; to decide which consultant, when and where you would like to be treated. You will also have the luxury of your own bedroom and bathroom and much more flexible visiting times.
You can either pay directly for the individual treatment, or it could be covered by a health insurance policy, for which you pay a monthly or annual premium.

What's the cost of private hip replacement?

The cost of hip replacements privately if you pay directly for the treatment will vary, depending on the location and your specific requirements, but the cheapest hip replacement costs in the UK start from around £12,000.
Most providers aim to provide a fixed, all-inclusive price, following your initial consultation with a consultant. Below is a typical example of what you would expect to be included within your fixed price.
  • Overnight accommodation in a private en-suite room, including nursing care and meals
  • Professional fees for Consultant Surgeon and Consultant Anaesthetists 
  • Theatre procedure
  • Standard prosthesis
  • Pre-admission assessment
  • Inpatient physiotherapy
It’s also important to consider this is obviously just for one hip. Were you to require both replacing, or in-fact a knee or ankle replacement, this would be in addition, and can quickly add up. Even just the one operation, is a significant outlay for most people; devastatingly out of reach for many, who are forced to suffer the wait.

A more accessible way to pay

Health insurance policies can cover hip replacement operations and offer a more accessible route to private treatment. The policy must be in place prior to diagnosis, or it would probably class as an existing condition and could therefore be excluded from cover. But health insurance provides the peace of mind that other conditions will be covered as well; it’s a holistic solution for your health, supporting prevention and cure. For more information check out our health insurance guide.
Health insurance policies are paid for on a monthly or annual premium basis, offering much smaller, regular payments and many additional benefits. The cost of health insurance policies can also vary, depending on factors such as your age or location of hospitals you would like to access. The below provides an insight into potential indicative costs of premiums, which could cover you for a hip replacement. For detailed expert advice, our advisers are on the end of the phone to find you the best and most affordable policies to suit you.
Non-surgical options such as physiotherapy, steroid injections and painkillers, will always be the initial course of action, but if these don’t work, day-to-day life can quickly become a struggle. The question then becomes less ‘what’s the cost to skip the queue?’, and more, ‘what’s the cost of waiting?’. Living with hip pain can bring extended periods unable to work, exercise, or even do regular day-to-day things. The damage to the joint can get worse and cause issues in other areas of the body, which are trying to compensate.
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To receive free, expert advice about health insurance policies, fill out the short form at usaycompare.co.uk today and speak to one of our advisers to get a quote.
Reference sources:
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