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Health insurance

Compare private health insurance quotes

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Compare private medical insurance quotes from 12 leading UK providers*

When it comes to health cover for you or your family it’s important to shop around and find the right policy to suit your needs and budget. We search across leading health insurance providers to show you our best deals tailored to your requirements.

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*Accurate as of September 2023

What is health insurance?

Private health insurance covers the cost of private medical care. While we have free care under the NHS in the UK, private health insurance offers you specialist treatment and diagnosis quicker and at your convenience. From booking appointments to scheduling surgeries or therapies, private health insurance is designed to work around you.

Your policy can cover health conditions that usually begin after your policy starts. However, all policies are different so it's important to pick the policy that will suit your needs best. You can take out cover for yourself, or as a joint health insurance policy to cover you and your partner. 


What does private health insurance cover?

The cover provided by your health insurance will depend on the type of policy and its details.

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    What can be covered

    • Hospital charges: such as scans, tests, hospital appointments, and X-rays)

    • Specialist fees This includes medical care that needs to be done within an overnight stay in hospital

    • Diagnostic tests app: Virtual GP appointments that give you access to a GP from the comfort of your own home

    • Radio/Chemotherapy:  Carried out by a specially trained physiotherapist

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    Not generally covered

    • Pre-existing conditions: medical conditions or illnesses that you already have before taking your policy

    • Emergency treatment: care to address sudden and severe medical conditions or injuries that require immediate attention

    • Cosmetic surgery: medical procedures or treatments to enhance appearance rather than to address medical conditions

    • Treatments readily available on the NHS: services that can be accessed through the National Health Service, which would exempt the need for private health insurance

How does private health insurance work?

  • 1

    Get referred by your GP

    If you think you have a health problem, you’d visit your GP or healthcare provider, but let them know you have private cover. They’ll refer you to a specialist if needed. You may be able to choose private hospitals or specialists that aren’t offered by the NHS.

  • 2

    Inform your insurer

    You’ll then need to tell your insurer that you want to make a claim. They’ll confirm whether the treatment you need is covered by your policy and if it is your insurer will approve your claim.

  • 3

    The insurer covers the cost

    Your GP will book your appointment. The cost will be covered by your insurance provider so long as your policy is active. You may also be asked to pay an excess toward the cost of treatment depending on your policy details.

How much is health insurance?

Health insurance won't cost the same for every person - your premium will be calculated based on different factors, including:

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    Your age

    Age can be an important factor in how your health insurance premium is calculated. As you get older, you become more at risk of developing health conditions and needing medical services

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    Your lifestyle

    If you’re a smoker, this will affect your premium as you’re seen as higher risk. Reducing your alcohol intake may also help bring costs down

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    Your cover options

    Comprehensive health insurance is more expensive than a basic policy, so decide if more extensive cover is needed if you're looking to keep costs down

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    Your excess level

    The higher your excess, the more you'll contribute towards your healthcare costs - so the lower your premiums will be 

Who can I cover on my health insurance policy?

There are different types of health insurance to choose from to suit your needs, including:

  • Individual health insurance

    Helps you avoid NHS waiting times and receive treatment quickly should you become ill or injured

  • Family health insurance

    Partners and children can be added to an individual policy providing medical cover for the whole family when any of you need it

  • Child health insurance

    Children can be added to an individuals policy providing cover for your child should they become ill or injured

  • Joint health insurance

    Couples health insurance offers peace of mind should either need treatment, received quickly

Is private health care worth it?

Private health insurance provides individuals with an option to access private medical care outside of the public healthcare system. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of private health insurance:

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    Advantages health insurance

    • Faster access to medical care: Private health insurance can provide faster access to medical care than the public healthcare system, which can be beneficial for individuals with urgent health needs.

    • More choice: Private health insurance can offer a wider range of healthcare providers, treatments, and facilities than the public healthcare system.

    • Reduced waiting times: Private health insurance can help reduce waiting times for elective procedures, tests, and consultations.

    • Access to private rooms: Private health insurance can provide access to private hospital rooms, which can improve comfort and privacy during hospital stays.

  • Cross


    • Premiums: Private health insurance premiums can be expensive, and the more coverage you need the more expensive your premiums are likely to be.

    • Range of cover: Your policy may not cover all medical conditions, and some treatments or procedures may require additional out-of-pocket expenses.

    • Exceptions for pre-existing conditions: Individuals with pre-existing conditions may have to pay higher premiums or receive limited coverage.

    • Additional complexity: Even with a private health policy in place, you often still need a referral from your GP which can make it difficult to choose the right coverage for your needs.

What additional policy extras can I get with health insurance?

Depending on the provider or insurance products you choose, there may be optional extras you can add to your private health insurance policy. Some of these extras may be included as standard, while some may be excluded entirely. You'll usually be able to choose to add:

Kara Gammell

Our expert says


With free healthcare at hand, medical insurance can seem like another expense that may not be worth it. But with wait times continuously increasing for surgeries and therapies along with specialists not being covered under the NHS anymore, it's easy to kick in your cover when you need it most.

- Kara Gammell, Life and Health insurance expert

What do I need to get a health insurance quote?

Get tailored private healthcare quotes with MoneySuperMarket. To find a suitable quote for you, we will need to know a few details, including:

  • Personal details

    This includes disclosing whether you are a smoker, if you are recovering from any long-term medical issues and any additional people you would like to add to your policy.  

  • Your policy

    Choose what level of cover you would like to include in your policy.

  • We will browse the market

    We will browse the market for deals from leading UK health insurance providers to find the best policy for you at the lowest possible price. 

Health insurance is usually intended to cover conditions that occur or develop after you've taken out your policy. If you have a pre-existing condition you'll generally still be able to buy private health insurance, however it's unlikely you'll be covered for treatment if it flares up.

Some insurers offer cover for certain pre-existing conditions if they are seen as minor (but the definition for this can vary), or if they believe the symptoms are unlikely to come back again. If you haven't experienced any symptoms for around five years (this may vary), insurers may be more willing to cover you for the condition.

Some health insurance providers might have an auto-renewal feature in place, which means you won't necessarily need to renew it yourself. However auto-renewals can be risky as insurers often raise premiums when they renew your policy.

It may be best to compare policies when yours is running out, in order to ensure you can stay on the best available deal for the cover you need.

You can take out joint private health insurance if you want to add your partner to your policy. Some health insurance providers will also let you add your children, so you have one policy for the whole family. 

It's worthwhile checking what your provider offers, so if you're not happy with your cover options you can shop around and find the right deal for your needs. 

You'll likely need to be over 18 to take a policy out for yourself, but under-18s can usually be added to their parent or guardian's policy - again, it's best to check beforehand instead of assuming. Some providers might have upper age limits, but even if they don't you can generally expect to pay more the older you are when you take out a policy.

You shouldn't need to go through a medical to get private health insurance. Most insurers will simply ask you to fill out a medical history form, so they can get an understanding of your lifestyle and medical history.

If your work offers private health insurance through an employee benefits package, it's unlikely that you'll need to take our private health insurance yourself. Just make sure you check exactly what you're covered for through your work, as your policy may not cover what you need it to. If you're after health insurance that covers optional extras like dentistry or physiotherapy, your policy through your work may not cover this. 

If you are self-employed you lose some of the benefits of being an employee. However, taking out private health insurance can prove valuable to you as you can chose when and where you're treated, so your medical care can be flexible to work around your schedule.

Health insurance is not the same as a healthcare cash plan, and you can have both at the same time. 

Health care cash plans are schemes where you pay a monthly fee to cover your routinely medical appointments, while health insurance usually covers treatment for conditions that develop after you take out your cover. You'll use a cash plan for routinely appointments, like an eye test or dental check-up. 

Unlike medical insurance, which is used for private treatment, a healthcare cash plan can be used alongside the NHS (as you may be expected to pay for prescriptions, eye tests and the dentist, depending on where you live.)

Depending on your policy type, you may need to pay an excess only once each policy year, while other policies will charge an excess each time you make a claim. The higher excess you have, the lower your health insurance premiums are likely to be. 

Health insurance can cover you for private health care in the UK, while critical illness cover pays out a lump sum or source of income if you're diagnosed with a serious illness that your policy covers. Unlike health insurance that you claim on for private medical treatment, critical illness cover is there for financial peace of mind, if you're diagnosed with a serious illness during the term of your policy.

If you're buying a private health insurance policy yourself, it's unlikely to be tax deductible. But if you're an employer buying private health insurance for your employees as a benefit package, it may be classed as a business expense - so you may be able to claim a tax deduction. 

For more information on tax deductions and health insurance, you should contact the HMRC.

Most private health insurance policies won't cover you if your fall unwell abroad, but it's best to check this with your insurer as policies do vary. If your policy does offer cover abroad, it's likely to only pay out for emergency treatment. With this in mind, it's important that you take out medical travel insurance when travelling outside the UK, so you can be protected against the unexpected.

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