You’ll have a wider choice of treatment options
Private health insurance is an insurance policy which covers the cost of private healthcare. It works in a similar way to any other insurance – you pay monthly or annual premiums, and your provider pays out for some or all of the cost of the private medical treatment you receive.
You can take out a single policy for yourself, or a joint policy to cover you and your partner. This can make things easier as you’ll only have one provider, one policy, and one point of contact to deal with.
You’ll have a wider choice of treatment options
You’ll be able to bypass long waiting times
You’ll get access to better hospital accommodation
A basic health insurance policy will usually pay for treatment and any related costs while you’re an inpatient at the hospital
A medium health insurance policy generally covers outpatient care as well as inpatient support
A comprehensive health insurance policy includes everything above as well as cover for extra surrounding treatment, such as mental health care and physiotherapy
Individual health insurance enable you to bypass
lengthy NHS waiting times and receive treatment quickly
should you become ill or injured.
Family health insurance provides cover for the whole
family ensuring that treatment is received quickly should
the need arise.
Child health insurance provides tailored cover for your
childrens growing needs offering peace of mind that
their health care is protected.
Joint health insurance offers peace of mind that should
either of you require treatment it will be received
promptly and at a hospital of your choice.
Choosing a more comprehensive policy with extras is likely to raise your premiums. However many providers offer flexible options that can help lower the cost of cover, such as taking out a joint policy or paying more excess. Joint policies can be a cheaper option than taking out two separate individual policies – on average a joint policy costs £1,821* for a year’s cover, which is £365 cheaper than two single policies.
You can usually expect the cost of health insurance to be higher the older you are, as you are at increased risk of needing medical treatment. In fact, you’ll pay over three times as much for health insurance aged 56 to 65 than you do if you are under 25*.
Private health insurance also tends to cost more if you live in certain locations. The most expensive areas are London, the south-west and the south-east, while the cheapest is Northern Ireland.
*ActiveQuote data, correct as November 2019
If you’re a smoker you’ll almost always see an increase in premiums – this often includes using nicotine substitute products like e-cigarettes.
If you want private health insurance, comparing quotes with MoneySuperMarket and our preferred partner ActiveQuote can help you find the best available deal. All you need to do is tell us a little about yourself and your medical history as well as the level of cover you want, and we’ll find a list of quotes tailored to your requirements.
You’ll be able to compare deals by the overall monthly or annual cost as well as the level of cover you’ll get and any extras included in the policy. Once you’ve found the deal you want, just click through to the provider to finalise your purchase.
Remember that as with all insurance products, the cheapest option available won’t always be the best. We recommend you look for a balance between cost and coverage to make sure you end up with the right level of protection for the best possible price.
The exact definition of a pre-existing condition varies between insurers, though the term normally applies to any conditions which present symptoms or which you’ve been treated for in the last five years. This usually includes any conditions you were diagnosed with over five years ago.
Some insurers might even set the year limit higher or lower, so it always pays to read policy documents and compare your options before buying.
Health insurance is usually intended to cover conditions that occur or develop after you’ve taken out the 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 – though the definition for this can vary – or if they believe the symptoms are unlikely to present again. If you haven’t experienced any symptoms for around five years – again, the exact amount of time can vary – providers might be more willing to cover you for the condition.
Private health insurance lets you claim for the cost of private medical care, rather than paying for it yourself or using a publicly funded health services like the NHS. You’ll visit your GP if you suspect you have a health problem as you usually would, however you should let them know you have private cover.
If they need to, they’ll refer you to a specialist. With private health insurance you may be able to choose private hospitals or specialists which might not be available on the NHS.
After this you’ll need to tell your insurance provider that you want to claim, and they’ll confirm whether the treatment you want or need is covered by your policy. If it is, they’ll approve your claim and your GP will book your appointment – the cost will then be picked up by your insurer.
Depending on the provider you choose, some of these may be included as standard while some may be excluded entirely. However you’ll usually be able to choose to add:
Private health insurance providers may have extensive lists of conditions that won’t be covered, as well as certain situations where you won’t be able to claim for treatment costs:
If you’re looking for ways to cut the cost of private health insurance, you could consider:
Some insurers might have an auto-renewal feature in place, which means you won’t necessarily need to renew it yourself. However auto-renewals can be dangerous as insurers often raise premiums when they renew your policy.
It’s better 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’ll be able to take out joint private health insurance if you want to add your partner to your policy, while some providers will also let you add your children. However this will largely depend on the provider and what they can offer, which is why it pays to shop around so you can find the best possible deal.
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.
As with any kind of insurance, some providers might charge more for annual payment and some might charge more for monthly premiums. It’s up to you how you’d like to pay, but insurers will generally let you know which the cheaper option is.
You shouldn’t usually have to undergo a medical in order to get cover – most insurers will simply ask you to fill out a medical history form.
Understanding health insurance can be a daunting task, never mind reading through pages of policy documentation that is full of insurance terms. That’s why we are here to help and have made a directory to simplify what we mean:
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We commit to providing you with clear and informative answers on all points such as this, so we have gathered the relevant information on this page.