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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 about your private cover. They may refer you to a specialist, and you might choose private hospitals or specialists not offered by the NHS.


Informing Your Insurer

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


Cost Coverage

Your GP will book your appointment, and your insurance covers the cost if your policy is active. You might pay an excess depending on your policy.

What is health insurance?

Health insurance is a form of coverage that takes care of the expenses associated with private medical services. Despite the availability of free healthcare through the NHS in the UK, private healthcare provides the advantage of quicker access to specialized medical treatment and diagnosis, all at your convenience. 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 to obtain coverage for yourself, or opt 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 offers personalized and comprehensive coverage beyond what public health services may provide. Here are some key advantages:


Shorter waiting times

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


Choice of hospitals

There can be a selection of hospitals to let you 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

Access specialized treatments not available through 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: Health care that needs to be done within an overnight stay in hospital.
  • Diagnostic tests app: Virtual GP appointments that give you access to a GP from your home.
  • Radio/Chemotherapy: Carried out by a specially trained physiotherapist.

Not generally covered

  • Pre-existing conditions: Medical conditions that you already have before taking your policy.
  • Emergency treatments: Care to address sudden or severe medical conditions or injuries that require immediate attention.
  • Cosmetic surgeries: Treatments to enhance appearance rather than to address medical conditions.
  • Treatments available on the NHS: Services that can be accessed through the NHS, which would exempt the need for private healthcare policies
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What optional extras can you get with private health insurance?

Private health insurance lets 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 you can choose to include:

  • Dental Cover: Get coverage for dental check-ups, treatments, and emergencies as an added option with many policies.
  • Eyecare Cover: Improve your policy by adding coverage for eye exams, prescription glasses, and contact lenses.
  • Physiotherapy: Include physiotherapy coverage for help with muscle and joint issues, ensuring timely access to rehabilitation services.
  • Homeopathic Medicine: Some policies offer coverage for homeopathic medicine, providing an alternative healthcare approach.
  • Mental Health Cover: Prioritize mental well-being with added mental health cover, giving you access to counseling, therapy, and other mental health services.
  • 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 health insurance

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


  • Premiums: Private medical insurance premiums can be expensive, and the more coverage you need, the higher the premiums may 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, impacting their ability to fully benefit from the insurance.
  • Additional Complexity: Despite having private health insurance, obtaining a referral from your GP can add complexity, making it challenging to navigate the right coverage for your individual needs.
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What type of health insurance plans can I get?

Basic health insurance coverIt typically covers inpatient treatments and stays, focusing on hospital care.
Medium health insurance coverThis plan usually covers outpatient care along with time spent in the hospital. It's a step beyond basic coverage.
Comprehensive health insuranceIt includes everything mentioned before, plus additional benefits like coverage for treatments 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 is health insurance?

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 get older, the risk of developing health conditions increases, impacting the cost of your premium.

Your lifestyle

Your lifestyle choices matter too. If you smoke, you may be considered a higher risk, affecting your premium. 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, offering more coverage, is pricier than basic policies. Consider your needs to balance coverage and costs effectively.

Your excess level

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

Postcode Impact

Living in London or major cities may increase costs due to higher expenses for hospitals and treatment centers.

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, premiums are likely higher. Quitting can lead to a cheaper deal. NHS support services are available to help you quit.

See what your job package offers

Many employers offer health insurance as part of the job and benefits package. Check what your company provides before buying a separate policy.

Increase the excess

Consider a higher excess amount. 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 instead of monthly. Paying in a lump sum tends to be cheaper than spreading it out to pay monthly or over the year.

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

Customize your coverage based on your specific needs. Remove any extras 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 for you.

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. Mention if you want to include additional people on your policy, like family members.
personal policy

Your policy

Share your coverage preferences. Decide how much protection you want in 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, while cheaper ones may cap your claims.

Hospital Location

Hospital Location

Consider where the hospitals covered by the insurance are located. Some, especially in major cities like London, may charge more.



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



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



Balance affordability and coverage. Prices tend to rise as you age, considering the higher likelihood of claims.

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, NHS provides free broad healthcare, but to access treatment and specialized services may involve waiting lists. Private medical insurance offers quick access to private GPs and consultants, covering treatment costs at private facilities, avoiding NHS queues. It also includes additional services like drugs, therapies, and specialist surgeries. In emergencies, seek immediate NHS care, but ongoing treatment costs may be covered by private insurance, depending on your policy.

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

Absolutely, you can still use the NHS even if you have health insurance. You have options: get free treatment through the NHS, use your policy to pay for private treatment, or mix 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 existing conditions. Others may charge more only if you need to cover treatment for these conditions, or if they are not excluded. Smokers generally pay higher premiums for private health insurance.

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, such as quicker access to medical care, the ability to choose specialists and hospitals, and a broader range of treatments, make it a valuable investment for some people.

Are health insurance premiums tax-deductible?

Yes, health insurance premiums can be deductible as a benefit-in-kind (BIK). For employees, if your expenses surpass 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), your health insurance premium becomes deductible along with other healthcare costs. If you're self-employed, you might qualify for a deduction even without surpassing the 7.5% threshold.

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

Certainly, you can include your children (biological, stepchild, adopted, or foster child) under the age limit of 26, residing with you for at least six months, as dependents on your insurance. 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 financially support them.

Can I get famly health insurance?

Absolutely, you can secure joint policy for health insurance for your partner or the entire family. This might be more cost-effective than obtaining separate policies for each person.

Are there any age limits to private healthcare?

Generally, you need to be over 18 to get a policy for yourself. However, under-18s can often be added to a parent or guardian's policy. It's crucial to check beforehand rather than assuming. While some providers might have upper age limits, even if they don't, the cost tends to increase as you get older when taking out a policy.

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. It's essential not to automatically renew; 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-preventing drugs, along with coverage for chemotherapy and surgery. Note that some policies may have annual limits, such as up to £30,000 per policy member, while 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?

Yes, you can usually purchase private health insurance even if you have a pre-existing condition. However, it's important to note that coverage for pre existing medical conditions typically applies to conditions that develop after taking out the policy. While some insurers may cover certain pre-existing conditions considered minor or unlikely to recur, coverage for flare-ups is unlikely. Insurers may be more willing to cover a pre-existing condition if you have been symptom-free for around five years, although this duration can vary.

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 includes treatments or tests that don't require hospital admission, such as minor diagnostic tests (e.g., x-rays) or physiotherapy sessions.

Will my policy cover me outside of 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, you might consider international health insurance. Some providers offer plans covering both home and abroad, but this could result in a higher monthly premium.