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*Based on a treatment and full diagnosis level of cover for a 30-year-old non-smoking male with no pre-existing medical conditions (March 2023)

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What is health insurance?

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Health insurance in the UK, is an insurance policy that provides healthcare cover in addition to the healthcare that everyone is entitled to on the National Health Service (NHS).

  • Quicker access - reduces your waiting time by allowing you to access private healthcare for you and your family.

  • Different levels of cover - the greater your cover, the higher the premiums are likely to be.

  • Choose when and where you're treated -you want to be treated at a private hospital, or you need specialist treatment, then private healthcare insurance could be an option for you.

You'll receive help for acute (immediate) conditions, and may also receive treatment for ongoing issues, depending on your policy.

How does it work?

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Do I need private health insurance?

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Health insurance, otherwise known as private health care, or private medical insurance, allows you to receive private medical treatment for a fee. 

  • Workplace benefits - Some workplace benefit and pension schemes include private healthcare as part of their packages for staff. In that case, you may find that private healthcare is included for you and your family.

  • Avoiding waiting lists - However, if your workplace doesn't offer private health insurance as a benefit, or you work for yourself, then private health insurance can be useful if you need to be treated quickly at a hospital close to your home, and not have to join an NHS waiting list.

Learn more about finding the right health cover for you.

Remember...

Depending on your policy, your medical care plan may cover all the cost of the private medical treatment, or a portion of it.

Understanding health insurance?

Basic health insurance cover

This will pay for treatment if you are admitted as an inpatient to hospital – when you stay overnight.

Medium health insurance cover 

This will include additional care if you are an outpatient – you come for treatment but are not admitted.

You can add on extra cover if you're an outpatient, plus:

  • Physiotherapy

  • Osteopathy

  • Treatment for mental health conditions

You may also have access to new and experimental drugs, which aren't currently available on the NHS.

The quotes you receive will be based on your age, state of health (especially if you currently smoke tobacco), and any medical conditions that you already have.

How do I find the best private health insurance in the UK?

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The right private healthcare plan for you depends on what you might need it for:

You can buy private medical insurance for yourself, you and your partner, or you can cover the whole family. It's up to you to choose the scope and level of health insurance cover that you need.

When you decide on the best private health insurance policy for you, there's the option to pay a single annual premium or monthly premiums. In this respect, private medical insurance works in a similar way to other types of insurance.

If you continue to keep paying your premiums, your cover will continue and you will be covered if you need to make a private medical insurance policy claim.

Learn more about the the different private medical insurance terminology.

It's important to keep up with your payments...

If you don't keep up your payments, your cover will cease. There's no investment element to private healthcare insurance, and if you don’t make a claim and the policy finishes, you will not get any money back.

Buying healthcare insurance

  • Compare quotes

If you want to get started with your medical insurance plan then you can compare quotes.

  • Apply online

Before deciding to complete your application online or via a call to us. If you give us a call, we will work with our partner Active Quote to find you the best deal for your private healthcare plan.

  • Getting started

Getting started on your medical insurance policy is easy- Just tell us when you want to start and how much you want to spend.

You will need to put in your name, and date of birth, and the details of anyone else you want to include in the policy.

Then you can see the different quotes available to you and compare. You can find some useful tips on health insurance in our guide.

Health insurance - FAQs

What are the benefits of private health insurance over the NHS?

What are the benefits of private health insurance over the NHS?

The benefits you’ll receive from your private health insurance plan will depend on your level of cover, but in general you’ll be able to:

  • Skip NHS waiting lists and receive treatment as and when it’s convenient for you

  • Receive fast-track consultations and treatment for short-term medical problems

  • Receive private treatment in an NHS or private hospital

  • Choose your hospital

  • Have access to treatments not covered by the NHS.

Generally, people choose private health care over the NHS because they’ll be able to get appointments faster and more convenient to their schedule.

Getting time to see a specialist after being referred by the GP might also be quicker.

Most private hospitals give patients a private en-suite room with TV, a selection of food and up-to-date technology.

How does private health insurance work?

How does private health insurance work?

Like most other forms of insurance, you will get to select the level of cover you require, so compare health insurance quotes, be it comprehensive, or a selection of a few areas.

Depending on your budget, you may wish to add in extras such as blood tests and x-rays, pick which hospitals you’d like access to, and how much excess you wish to pay.

The more comprehensive your cover, the more expensive your premiums are likely to be. So it's important to identify how important each area of cover is to you, and whether you would prefer NHS treatment in that case.

Health insurance can also provide cover for cancer treatment, including drugs and therapies that may not be approved for use by the NHS.

In a medical emergency you would still use Accident and Emergency but if you have a health insurance policy you can be moved to a private hospital, if you require further treatment or for recovery.

What are the different policy options?

What are the different policy options?

Whether you're buying medical cover yourself, or are offered it as a perk at work, there are a number of different options:

Individual policy – this covers you for treatment if you're ill and injured and means that you don’t have to join an NHS waiting list but can be seen quickly. You can choose where you want to be treated.

Joint policy – this covers you and your partner or spouse for healthcare treatment when you need it. A joint policy may be cheaper than two individual policies.

Family policy - you can add the names of your children or dependents to ensure that they are covered for any health issues that may arise.

International health insurance – this covers you and anyone named on the policy if you need medical treatment abroad. It provides emergency, inpatient and outpatient cover if you're living or working abroad. It can be especially useful if you're in countries where medical care is very expensive – like the United States – or where public medical services are very basic.

Company health insurance is offered to employees and their families. It's usually an optional perk provided by your workplace. Your employer may offer this benefit to you as a free perk, or heavily discounted.

How do I choose the level of cover with my medical health plan?

How do I choose the level of cover with my medical health plan?

There are usually two types of policies:

Limited health care cover – also known as moratorium underwriting. This won’t cover you for any pre-existing illnesses or any health problems you’ve had in the last five years.

However, if you suffer no symptoms, seek no medical advice and have no treatment or medication for these pre-existing conditions they can become covered again in the future. This period tends to be two years symptom, advice, treatment and medication free.

This tends to be the cheapest type of healthcare insurance.

Full healthcare cover – also known as full medical underwriting. In this case, you complete a medical questionnaire, and the insurer will give you a definitive answer as to what is covered before your policy begins.

Most insurers will only cover you for new conditions, and treatments that can be administered over the short-term. As a result, long-term illnesses or regular care over a long period such as for a standard pregnancy or cosmetic treatments are not likely to be covered.

If you do have some specific areas of concern regarding your future health, then check with the insurer whether you will be covered for them and to what level.

What to check before taking out health insurance

What to check before taking out health insurance

Before you compare medical insurance suppliers, it’s important to check the following details:

  • The level of excess on the policy (the amount you would pay towards a claim)

  • Which hospitals you’re able to be treated in

  • The types of patient fees covered

  • The kinds of additional benefits that may be included

  • Whether any particular illnesses and treatments are not covered

  • Any exclusions, or limitations to the policy

You can find out more about health insurance here.

Health insurance in winter

Read our guide to winter health conditions, and find out how health insurance (also known as private medical insurance) can safeguard you and your family.

Insurance for people with existing medical conditions

It's a common misconception that you can't get health or life insurance cover with a pre-existing medical condition. This guide can help you understand more about the types of insurance available.

Health insurance FAQ

We answer some of the most frequently asked questions about private health care insurance

Compare health insurance quotes

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