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How does private health insurance work?

Private health insurance is similar to other types of insurance. You pay a monthly or yearly fee called a premium.


Getting Referred

If you have a health issue, see your GP and let them know that you have private insurance. They may refer you to a specialist, and you might choose to go to private hospitals or specialists not offered by the NHS.


Informing Your Insurer

Tell your insurer that you want to make a claim. They'll check if your policy covers the treatment you need. If it does, your claim will be approved.


Cost Coverage

Your GP will book your appointment, and your insurer will cover the cost as long as your policy is active. Depending on your policy, you may be required to pay an excess.

What is health insurance?

A health insurance policy covers the expenses associated with private medical services. Despite the availability of free healthcare in the UK through the NHS, private healthcare provides the advantage of faster access to specialised medical treatment and diagnosis. It offers a range of benefits, from facilitating prompt appointment bookings to accommodating surgeries or therapies based on your schedule.
These private medical insurance policies typically cover health conditions that arise after the policy has been initiated. Since policies can vary, it's crucial to select one that aligns with your specific needs. You have the option of obtaining coverage for yourself, or opting for a joint health insurance policy that extends protection to both you and your partner

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Why get private health insurance?

Private health insurance may offer personalised and comprehensive coverage beyond what public health services provide. Here are some key advantages:


Shorter waiting times

Appointments can often be found more quickly than on the NHS.


Choice of hospitals

There may be a selection of hospitals, so you can choose where you would like to be treated.



Private healthcare can offer quicker access to physiotherapy.


Private rooms

Policies can offer private rooms rather than open wards.


Specialist referrals

Policies can let you get GP referrals for consultations from specialists.


Specialist treatments

You may be able to access specialised treatments that are not available on the NHS, broadening your options for healthcare.

What does private health insurance cover?

What can be covered

  • Hospital charges: Tests, scans, appointments, and X-rays.
  • Specialist fees: Including for procedures that require an overnight stay in hospital.
  • Virtual GP app: Virtual appointments that give you access to a GP from your home.
  • Physiotherapy: Carried out by a specially trained physiotherapist.

Not generally covered

  • Pre-existing conditions: Medical conditions that you already had before you took out the policy.
  • Emergency treatments: Care to address sudden medical conditions or injuries that require immediate attention.
  • Cosmetic surgeries: Treatments to enhance appearance rather than to address medical conditions.
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What optional extras can you get with private health insurance?

Private health insurance providers let you shape your coverage to fit your needs. You can add extra features to your policy, depending on what matters to you and what suits your budget. Here are some extras that you can choose to include:

  1. Dental Cover: Get coverage for dental check-ups, treatments, and emergencies as an added option with many policies.
  2. Eyecare Cover: Improve your policy by adding coverage for eye exams, prescription glasses, and contact lenses.
  3. Physiotherapy: Include physiotherapy coverage for help with muscle and joint issues to gain timely access to rehabilitation services.
  4. Homoeopathic Medicine: Some policies offer coverage for homoeopathic medicine, providing an alternative healthcare approach.
  5. Mental Health Cover: Prioritise mental well-being with added mental health cover, giving you access to counselling, therapy, and other mental health services.
  6. Pregnancy or Maternity Services: Tailor your policy to cover pregnancy-related expenses and maternity services, providing support during this important life stage.

Choosing these optional extras gives you flexibility. It lets you create a private healthcare policy that addresses your specific needs. Take the time to review and select extras carefully to ensure your policy aligns with your unique health requirements and personal circumstances.

What are the benefits of private medical insurance

Advantages of health insurance

  • Faster Access to Medical Care: Private health insurance ensures quick access to treatment, reducing wait times compared to the public system.
  • More Choice: Choose from a broader range of providers, treatments, and facilities, ensuring flexibility not available on the NHS.
  • Reduced Waiting Times: Private health insurance minimises waiting times for elective procedures, tests, and consultations.
  • Access to Private Rooms: Enjoy private hospital rooms for enhanced comfort and privacy during stays. This is a feature often lacking in public healthcare.


  • Premiums: Private medical insurance premiums can be expensive. The more coverage you need, the higher the premiums become, impacting your budget.
  • Range of Cover: Some policies may not cover all conditions, leading to additional expenses for specific treatments.
  • Pre-Existing Conditions: Individuals with pre-existing conditions may face higher premiums or limited coverage. This will impact their ability to fully benefit from the insurance.
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What type of health insurance plans can I get?

Basic health insurance coverThis typically covers inpatient treatments and stays, focusing on hospital care.
Mid-level health insurance coverThis plan usually covers outpatient care along with time spent in the hospital. It's a step beyond basic coverage.
Comprehensive health insuranceThis includes everything mentioned previously, plus additional benefits such as physiotherapy. This plan is all-encompassing, providing a broad range of healthcare support.

Can I get health insurance for my business?

Yes, you can get private healthcare for your business. This type of insurance offers benefits to both employers and employees.
When you consider health insurance for your business, it means quicker access to medical treatments and services for your staff. This contributes to their well-being and job satisfaction. There are various options to explore, with private health plans and insurance plans that can be customized for your company and its workforce. These plans may cover different medical services, specialist consultations, and even access to private hospitals.
The process of getting business health insurance involves choosing the most suitable plan from various providers and tailoring it to meet your employees' needs. This ensures your business and its workforce get the healthcare support they need for overall well-being and job satisfaction.

How much does health insurance cost?

Health insurance costs can vary, and your premium is calculated based on several factors. Here's what influences the cost:

Your age

Age plays a role in determining your health insurance premium. As you age, the risk of developing health conditions increases. This impacts the cost of your premium.

Your lifestyle

Your lifestyle choices matter, too. If you smoke, you may be considered a higher risk. Cutting down on alcohol intake can help reduce costs, as well.

Your cover options

The extent of your coverage affects the cost. Comprehensive health insurance with more coverage is pricier than basic options. Consider your needs to balance coverage and costs effectively.

Your excess level

Understanding your excess is crucial. It's the amount you contribute to your healthcare costs. Opting for a higher excess lowers premiums. However, make sure you can afford it if you need to make a claim.

Postcode Impact

Living in London or other major cities may increase the price of your policy. This is due to the higher costs of medical services in these areas.

Approximate prices based on a typical comprehensive policy in January 2024:

AgeMonthly Premium (£)*

How can I get a cheaper quote for health insurance?

Getting a more affordable health insurance quote is possible. Here are some straightforward tips:

Give up smoking

If you smoke, your premiums will likely be higher. Quitting can lead to getting a better deal. NHS support services are available to help you give up.

See what your job package offers

Many employers offer health insurance as part of their benefits packages. Check what your company provides before buying a separate policy.

Increase the excess

Consider a higher excess. This is what you pay before any claim is processed. Ensure it's realistic and affordable for you.

Pay annually

Opt for an annual payment. Paying in a lump sum tends to be cheaper than spreading it over the year to pay monthly.

Live a healthy lifestyle

Staying fit can lead to a more affordable deal with certain insurers. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle pays off in more ways than one.

Exclude anything you don’t need

Customise your coverage based on your specific needs. Remove anything from your policy that you don't think you'll require.

Shop around

Compare quotes from different insurers. This ensures you get the most comprehensive policy at the best price.

What do I need to get a health insurance quote?


Personal details

Provide details about your smoking habits, medical history, and any ongoing health issues. Specify if you want to include family members on your policy.
personal policy

Your policy

Share your coverage preferences. Decide how much protection you want from your health insurance policy.

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Rest assured, our service will actively search for the best options from leading UK health insurance providers, ensuring you get the most suitable policy at the lowest price.

What to consider when choosing private health insurance?

Cover level

Cover level

Choose a coverage level that suits your healthcare needs. Comprehensive policies cover most situations without cost limits. Cheaper ones may cap your claims.

Hospital Location

Hospital Location

Consider where the hospitals covered by the policy are located. Access to some, especially those in major cities like London, may cost more.



Check for extra benefits. Some plans offer incentives like discounts on gym memberships.



Review the policy exclusions carefully. Some might limit outpatient treatment or exclude it altogether.



Balance affordability and coverage. Prices tend to rise as you age. This is because you are more likely to claim.

Deferred period

Deferred period

Watch for a deferred period, like the first three months. Some insurance companies may not allow claims during this time.

Private health insurance FAQ

How is private medical insurance different from the NHS?

In the UK, the NHS provides free and comprehensive healthcare. However, access to treatment and specialised services may involve waiting lists. Private medical insurance offers quick access to private consultants. Policies cover treatment costs at private facilities, allowing patients to avoid NHS queues. They may also include additional services such as drugs, therapies, and specialist surgeries. In emergencies, patients must still seek immediate NHS care. However, ongoing treatment costs may be covered by private insurance, depending on the policy.

Can I still use the NHS if I get health insurance?

Absolutely! You can still use the NHS when you have health insurance. You have options: get free treatment through the NHS, use your policy to pay for private treatment, or combine both approaches.

Will my health affect the cost of my insurance?

Yes, your health can impact insurance costs. Some policies may cost more if you have pre-existing conditions. Others may charge more only if you want to cover treatment for these conditions. Smokers generally pay higher private health insurance premiums.

Is it worth getting private health insurance in the UK?

Whether private health insurance is worth it depends on your circumstances and the policy you choose. While costs are a drawback, the benefits are significant. They include quicker access to medical care, the ability to choose specialists and hospitals, and a broader range of treatments, These factors make it a valuable investment for many people.

Are health insurance premiums tax-deductible?

Health insurance premiums in the UK are generally not tax-deductible for individuals. However, companies can deduct premiums as business expenses when providing health insurance to employees. Self-employed individuals may be eligible for tax relief if health insurance is considered a business cost. Employees receiving health insurance as a benefit from their employer are subject to taxes on the premiums as a "benefit in kind."

Can I add other people to my private health insurance policy?

Certainly, you can include your children (biological, stepchild, adopted, or foster child). They must be under the age of 26. Typically, you can also add your spouse to the plan. Additionally, you may sometimes include other dependents, like relatives earning less than $3,000 annually, provided you support them financially.

Can I get famly health insurance?

Absolutely, you can take out a joint policy with your partner or your entire family. This might be cheaper than obtaining separate policies for each person.

Are there any age limits on private healthcare?

Generally, you need to be over 18 to get a policy. However, under-18s can often be added to a parent or guardian's policy. It's crucial to check beforehand rather than making assumptions. Some providers have upper age limits. Even if they don’t, costs increase as you get older.

Do I have to renew my coverage every year?

Yes, most health insurance plans work on a yearly basis, with a set renewal date. If you anticipate needing different coverage next year, you can make changes before the policy expires. Don’t renew automatically; instead, carefully review all the details before making a decision.

Am I covered for cancer-related treatments?

Yes, your policy can cover cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and recovery. Comprehensive health insurance policies often include access to cancer drugs, along with coverage for chemotherapy and surgery. Some policies may have annual limits, such as £30,000 per policy member. Others may offer unlimited coverage based on the chosen level of cover.

Can I get health insurance if I have a pre-existing medical condition?

You can have both private health insurance and a healthcare cash plan simultaneously. This is because they serve different purposes.
A healthcare cash plan involves paying a monthly fee to cover routine medical appointments, like eye tests or dental check-ups. Health insurance, on the other hand, typically covers treatment for conditions that develop after you obtain the coverage. br While health insurance is used for private treatment, a healthcare cash plan can be used alongside the NHS It can cover expenses like prescriptions, eye tests, and dental appointments, depending on your location.

Do I need private health insurance if I have a healthcare cash plan?

You can have both private health insurance and a healthcare cash plan simultaneously, as they serve different purposes.
A healthcare cash plan involves paying a monthly fee to cover routine medical appointments, like eye tests or dental check-ups. Health insurance, on the other hand, typically covers treatment for conditions that develop after you obtain the coverage.
While health insurance is used for private treatment, a healthcare cash plan can be used alongside the NHS, covering expenses like prescriptions, eye tests, and dental appointments, depending on your location.

What’s the difference between inpatient and outpatient care?

Inpatient Care
Inpatient care involves treatments that require an overnight stay in a hospital or clinic.
Outpatient Care
Outpatient care involves treatments or tests that don't require hospital admission. This includes minor diagnostic tests (e.g., x-rays) or physiotherapy sessions.

Will my policy cover me outside the UK?

No, health insurance policies are designed to provide coverage within the UK.
If you require coverage for a short trip abroad, opt for a travel insurance policy with adequate medical care for accidents and emergencies.
For living, working abroad, or having a holiday home overseas, consider international health insurance. Some providers offer plans covering both home and abroad, However, this could result in a higher monthly premium.