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Self-employed health insurance

Mehdi Punjwani
Written by  Mehdi Punjwani
Saarrah Mussa
Reviewed by  Saarrah Mussa
5 min read
Updated: 07 May 2024

Health insurance offers a range of attractive benefits, and if you’re self-employed it could be a major factor in ensuring you’re able to work and run your business with minimal interruption. Here’s how a self-employed health insurance policy can help you.

What is self-employed health insurance? 

Self-employed health insurance refers to a private health plan you take out if you work for yourself i.e. you run your own business and you don’t have access to an employer-sponsored health plan. It offers the same benefits you’d expect with a standard private health insurance plan, such as reduced wait times, private facilities and access to treatments and specialists not available on the NHS.  

Why is health insurance important if you’re self-employed? 

If you’re self-employed then you won’t have access to two important benefits commonly offered by companies to their employees: 

  1. Employer-sponsored health insurance: Many workplaces offer employer-sponsored health benefits that you can take advantage of, though they may not offer an expansive array of coverage. If you don’t have access to this, taking out your own cover can ensure you have access to things like reduced waiting times, private facilities and specialist treatment, but with a plan that suits your requirements and budget  

  2. Sick leave: You also won’t really have paid sick leave to fall back on if you become ill or injured, so reduced waiting times and potentially more advanced care can help you get back to full health so you can minimise lost earnings 

How much does health insurance typically cost if you’re self-employed? 

Health insurance for self-employed individuals can cost anywhere from £20 to over £100, depending on a range of factors related to yourself and the cover you want:  

  • Your age: As you grow older you become more susceptible to health conditions and illnesses, so coverage becomes more expensive as insurers see you as a higher claim risk 

  • Your chosen level of cover: Taking out more comprehensive plans that offer more coverage will result in higher premiums 

  • Your medical history: If you have a history of health conditions then you’ll present as more of a risk to insurers so they’ll charge more for cover 

  • Your lifestyle: If you smoke, or even use any kind of nicotine, or if you’re in a high-risk profession your insurance will be more expensive 

How can you get cheaper health insurance when you’re self-employed? 

To reduce the cost of cover, you should try to look into the following solutions: 

  • Volunteering a higher excess payment can help reduce your premiums. Just be sure you can afford the cost when it comes to making a claim 

  • Reducing the number of hospitals on your policy list can also bring the overall cost down 

  • Taking out the cover you need and avoiding extras like therapy or dental care can ensure your premiums aren’t unnecessarily inflated 

  • Take the ‘six-week’ option which means you’ll use the NHS for treatment if it’s available within six weeks of you being referred 

What type of health insurance should you take out if you’re self-employed? 

Health insurance comes in various shapes and sizes, so you might want to think about the following types of cover: 

Flexible or adaptable policies 

Flexible health insurance plans let you tailor your policy to include or remove coverage from their standard plans so you can take out cover suited to your needs. 

Health cash plans 

Health cash plans cover routine medical practices like GP visits, dentists, opticians, and physiotherapists rather than unexpected treatments like standard health insurance.  

Family cover 

Family cover can extend your policy to protect other people in your family, including your partner and children. It can be a cost-effective alternative to taking out individual policies for each person, but you may not be able to tailor the cover specifically for everyone’s individual needs. 

What should you consider when looking for self-employed health insurance? 

If you’re self-employed you should bear in mind the following in order to decide on what level of coverage is right for you: 

  • Your budget: Consider what you’ll be able to afford in monthly or annual premiums as well as an excess payment if you need to claim 

  • Your health and coverage needs: Also think about if there are any specific types of health coverage you need, such as dental or eye-care, as these are unlikely to be included in basic policies 

  • Preferred doctors or hospitals: You might also have a preferred network of specialists, hospitals or treatment types that only certain providers will offer access to 

  • Risks associated with your profession: Lastly if there are any specific risks associated with your profession bear these in mind when looking for cover 

What does self-employed health insurance cover? 

If you’re self-employed you’ll be able to take out health insurance that covers a range of things depending on the level of protection you take out. Most providers will offer different tiers, loosely falling into the following categories: 

  • Basic cover: This pays out for the cost of basic inpatient treatment if you need to stay at the hospital due to an illness or injury 

  • Mid-level cover: You might have the option to upgrade your policy to include cover for outpatient treatment, such as scans, tests, certain procedures, and consultations  

  • Comprehensive cover: More advanced plans can offer cover additional care, such as treatments not usually available on the NHS, cancer care, various therapies, mental health support, and more 

Does health insurance cover emergency care or chronic illnesses?  

Health insurance does not typically cover emergency treatment as this is usually taken care of by the NHS, although it can come in useful for follow-up care and reducing waiting times. Comprehensive plans might cover chronic illnesses, but in many cases you will need to look for specialist cover for pre-existing conditions. 

What is typically excluded from self-employed health insurance? 

Most types of insurance will list certain exclusions, and for health insurance you can generally expect the following not to be covered by standard policies:  

  • Pre-existing conditions - you’ll need comprehensive cover or specialist care 

  • Pregnancy, maternity care and childbirth 

  • Infertility treatment 

  • Cosmetic surgery 

  • Transplants 

  • Injuries or illnesses related to substance abuse or self-harm 

Can you cover dependents on a self-employed health insurance policy? 

Yes, you can take out family cover to protect partners and children under the terms of your policy as a cost-effective alternative to individual cover. 

How do self-employed individuals apply for health insurance? 

If you’re self-employed, you can apply for health insurance by giving a few details about yourself, your health, and the cover you need. You may also need to complete a health check-up but not all providers will ask for this. 

What are the tax implications of self-employed health insurance? 

Personal health insurance is not usually tax-deductible as it’s seen as a personal expense, so you won’t be able to deduct your premiums as a business expense. However, business health insurance is available if you’re a sole trader or the director of a limited company, and this is a tax-deductible expense. 

Alternatives to health insurance 

As alternatives to health insurance, if you’re self-employed you may want to consider the following: 

  • Life insurance: A life insurance policy can help care for your loved ones after you pass away, either as a lump sum or regular payments to your dependents  

  • Critical illness cover: Critical illness cover offers a payout if you become severely ill from conditions like heart attacks or a stroke 

  • Income protection: Income protection insurance offers cover for any lost earnings resulting from illness or injury, usually through monthly payments  

Compare health insurance quotes from reliable providers 

When you compare health insurance with MoneySuperMarket we’ll show you quotes from reliable providers. Just tell us a little about yourself and your general health, as well as the cover you want, and we’ll search the market for deals that match your needs. 

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