By Marcus Leach

Self employed people are amongst the hardest hit when it comes to the financial impact of being in hospital.

That’s the conclusion in a new report examining the true costs of illness conducted by leading cash plan provider Medicash.

The survey questioned 400 Britons who had all recently been in hospital or were undergoing regular outpatient treatment.

The findings show that, on average, a self employed person loses over £3000 in income when they are unable to work as a result of illness. A third of this group reported loss of earnings of more than £5000. There are over 3 million self employed in the UK, yet worryingly only 28% of self employed people have any kind of insurance in place to cover illness.

And the extra costs involved with being in hospital has led to 50% of self employed people feeling stressed, with half fearing this would hinder their recovery.

The top five costs respondents said they were unprepared for were; car parking charges, TV cards, food, travel expenses and medication with patients being out of pocket to the tune of £50 on average. Family and friends were asked to fork out for extra food or drink for 40% of patients in hospital and in areas such as the North West this figure rose to over 60%.

“Self employed people are particularly vulnerable if they are diagnosed with an illness and it’s worrying that so few have any sort of plan in place," Medicash Chief Executive Sue Weir said.

"Many people simply don’t take the time to think about how they would cope financially if they were unable to work and if this happens it can cause considerable strain for both individuals and their families.

“People without cover can be hit hard. We want to encourage people to plan ahead so that, in the event of illness, they can have peace of mind.”