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Private Health Insurance

GET HEALTHCARE FASTER WITH AFFORDABLE HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS

  • Avoid NHS waiting lists & get treatment quicker

  • Find cover for your entire family under one policy

  • Access to private rooms & excellent healthcare from top UK doctors

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Compare Private Health Insurance

Compare private medical insurance quotes from 9 leading UK providers1

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1Accurate as of April 2024

What is health insurance?

In the UK, private health insurance provides an option for individuals to secure health or medical insurance through private insurers, offering an alternative to the publicly funded National Health Service (NHS).

Key features and reasons for considering private health insurance include:

  1. Choice & Speed: Private health insurance often allows quicker access to specialists and faster treatment than the NHS. Policyholders may also have more choice over where and when they are treated.

  2. Private Facilities: Patients with private insurance typically have access to private hospitals and clinics, which might offer more comfortable facilities and private rooms.

  3. Specialist Treatments & Drugs: Some treatments and drugs not available on the NHS due to cost may be accessible through private insurance.

  4. Cover for Specific Conditions: Policies can be tailored to include specific types of treatment or conditions, such as cancer care, mental health treatment, or physiotherapy.

Private health insurance is not a replacement for the NHS in the UK but rather a complement to it. Many people use private insurance to cover specific areas of healthcare while still relying on the NHS for other services.

What are the benefits of private medical insurance?

Private medical insurance offers several benefits, including:

  • Reduced Waiting Times: Experience faster access to healthcare consultations, diagnostic services, and treatments.

  • Specialist Access: Receive care from top experts in their respective medical fields.

  • Choice of Surgeon & Hospital: Select your preferred healthcare professionals and facilities.

  • Private Rooms: Enjoy the comfort of private accommodations with amenities like TVs and en-suite bathrooms.

  • Recovery and Aftercare: Benefit from quick access to rehabilitative services like physiotherapy.

  • Specialist Treatments: Gain access to certain medical treatments and drugs not typically available through the NHS.

However, there are also drawbacks to consider:

  • Cost: Be aware that your policy tends to increase with age and as a result of claims

  • Exclusions: Understand that coverage may not extend to pre-existing conditions, chronic illnesses, or emergency interventions.

  • High-Risk Activities: Note that injuries from high-risk activities or extreme sports may not be covered by the policy.

What type of health insurance plans are available?

When selecting a health insurance plan, it's important to consider your specific needs and who will be covered by the policy. Various types of health insurance plans are available:

  • Individual health insurance - Provides quick access to medical care, bypassing NHS waiting times, and often offers a broader choice of consultants and hospitals.

  • Joint health insurance - Covers you and your partner, which can be more cost-effective than two individual policies, although this is not always the case.

  • Family health insurance - Tends to be more economical than purchasing separate coverage for each family member.

  • Child health insurance - Ensures that your children can receive prompt treatment in private healthcare facilities if they fall ill.

What does private health insurance cover?

The details of your private health insurance cover depends on the policy and coverage level you choose.

  • Tick

    What can be covered

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

    • Specialist fees: Includes medical care that needs to be done within an overnight stay in hospital also known as inpatient treatment.

    • Diagnostic tests: Virtual or in person GP appointments.

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

  • Cross

    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

What policy extras can I get with health insurance?

Most private health insurance policies offer the flexibility to tailor coverage to individual needs and budget constraints. Policyholders can choose to add features such as:

  • Dental care: Essential for maintaining oral health, dental care coverage can include regular check-ups, treatments, and emergency dental services.

  • Eye care: Protect your vision with eye care coverage that typically includes eye tests, prescription glasses, and contact lenses.

  • Physiotherapy: Ideal for recovery from injuries or managing chronic conditions, physiotherapy coverage supports treatments to improve mobility and relieve pain.

  • Complementary and Alternative Treatments: Expand your health options with coverage for treatments like acupuncture and massage therapy, beneficial for holistic well-being.

  • Mental health cover: Prioritise your mental health with coverage for therapy, counselling, and psychiatric treatments.

  • Pregnancy or maternity services: For expectant parents, this coverage can include prenatal care, maternity services, and postnatal support.



What can increase the cost of private health cover?

Private health insurance won't cost the same for everyone, the cost depends on number of considerations, including:

  • Age: Older individuals are more likely to encounter health problems, which is often reflected in increased premium costs.

  • Location: Living in areas like London or other major cities can result in higher premiums due to the elevated costs associated with hospitals and private treatment centres in these locations.

  • Coverage Level: Opting for a comprehensive insurance plan will generally be pricier than choosing a basic policy, and adding optional extras can further increase the premium.

  • Excess Amount: Choosing to pay a higher excess can reduce the premium cost. However, it's important to ensure that the excess amount is affordable in case a claim needs to be made.

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

How can I get a cheaper quote for health insurance?

Tips for lowering your private health insurance quote include:

  • Pay a Higher Excess: Increasing your excess (the amount you pay during a claim) can lead to lower monthly premiums.

  • Pay Annually: Annual payments can be more cost-effective than monthly payments.

  • Employer Plans: Check if your employer offers health insurance as part of your job benefits.

  • Choose Appropriate Cover: More comprehensive coverage will cost more, so select a level that suits your needs and budget.

  • Shop Around: Compare different quotes to find the best policy for you at a reasonable price.

  • Consider Less Outpatient Cover: Opting for reduced or no outpatient cover can lower your premiums.

  • Six-Week Option: Some providers won't let you make a claim if the NHS can provide treatment within six weeks.

  • Quit Smoking: Smokers often face higher premiums compared to non-smokers.

How Does Private Health Insurance Work in the UK?

Private health insurance in the UK is another way to get medical care besides the NHS. You pay money every month or year, called a premium, to get this insurance.

You also choose an excess, which is the amount you pay if you need to make a claim. This lets you use private doctors and hospitals and can mean shorter waits for treatment.

Before comparing policies, it's advisable to check whether you already have private health insurance through your employer.

How to Get Started with Private Health Insurance

To begin with private healthcare, consult your GP about any health issue, mentioning your private cover. Your GP can recommend specialists or treatments. If unsure, request an open referral letter. Some policies offer access to a private GP for initial diagnosis, referrals, or prescriptions.

How to Make a Claim on Your Private Health Insurance

To claim, contact your insurer with details, including any GP referral letters. If covered, they’ll confirm and guide you through the options, adhering to policy limits. They can also assist in finding appropriate consultants

Example quote when comparing health insurance

provider logo

Bupa

Treatment & Care

  • Monthly Price

    £25.78

  • Excess/Co-pay

    £250 p.a. excess

  • Hospital List

    Essential Access


Great for

  • Diagnostic tests
  • Specialist fees
  • Radio/Chemo therapy

But be aware that

  • Medical exclusions may apply including pre-existing conditions and accident and emergency treatment

This is for illustrative purposes only. If your circumstances and cover needs differ, your quote may be more or less expensive than the above example.
Learn more about our full methodology here.

Kara Gammell

Our expert says

Did you know that in the UK, the current NHS waiting list of elective care is still above 7.5 million according to recent data*? With ever increasing waiting times, and the NHS also no longer providing certain specialist treatments, private health cover could speed up your diagnosis and treatment. And for some, the additional cover is worth the expense.

- Kara Gammell, Life and Health insurance expert

Key factors to consider when choosing private health insurance

When comparing private health insurance options, consider the following:

  • Coverage Level: Comprehensive policies typically offer extensive coverage without monetary limits, while more affordable plans may have a cap on claimable amounts.

  • Hospital Location: Hospitals in larger cities, like London, may have higher charges.

  • Perks: Some policies offer benefits such as gym membership discounts.

  • Exclusions: Policies may have limitations, such as restricted outpatient treatment coverage or complete exclusion of certain services.

  • Cost: Insurance premiums tend to increase with age due to a higher likelihood of claims.

  • Deferred Period: Some policies may include a waiting period before claims can be made, such as a restriction on claims within the first few months of coverage.

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:


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    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.  

  • clipboard-Gradient-110

    Your policy

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

  • Icon-Search-110x110

    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. 

No, there is not an age limit for health insurance however your age may affect the price of your premiums. 

It is usually better to pay for your premiums annually rather than monthly. Paying annually means you are less likely to miss a payment and have your insurance lapse and it can also be slightly cheaper than paying monthly. 

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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