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.

Considering private medical care in the UK? AXA is a prominent provider with a vast network of about 35,000 specialists and enticing perks like complimentary newborn baby cover and gym discounts.

However, while they’re widely recognised, AXA may not suit everyone’s needs. So, we present this comprehensive AXA health insurance review to help you find a policy that aligns with your priorities and offers value for money.

What Is AXA PPP?

AXA’s history dates back to 1938 when it was established as the London Association for Hospital Services. In 1943, it introduced its first recognisable Health Insurance policy, the HSP (Hospital Service Plan). After the expansion of healthcare under the NHS, the company rebranded as Private Patients Plan or AXA PPP Healthcare. The focus was on providing quality health insurance to middle-income earners in England.

In 1999, AXA PPP became part of the AXA Group and changed its name to reflect this new association. Today, AXA continues to uphold its mission of providing quality private healthcare solutions.

Is AXA a Good Insurance Company?

AXA seems to be a reputable company with a rich history and impressive credentials. They’ve received numerous awards, including recognition from Feefo as a Platinum Trusted Service Provider and accolades like Best Individual Private Medical Insurance Provider and Health Insurance Provider of the Year.

Also, AXA has been recognised for their innovation and commitment to corporate social responsibility, receiving awards from the World Economic Magazine.

Based on over 284,000 AXA health insurance reviews on Feefo, AXA is rated 4.4 out of 5 stars. Trustpilot paints a similar picture with a 4.3 out of 5 rating across over 21,000 reviews.Based on over 284,000 AXA health insurance reviews on Feefo, AXA is rated 4.4 out of 5 stars. Trustpilot paints a similar picture with a 4.3 out of 5 rating across over 21,000 reviews.

How Does AXA PPP Healthcare Work?

You purchase one of AXA’s plans for a monthly or yearly fee, and in return, it covers the cost of your treatment as long as it’s included in your policy. For instance, the Personal Health plan, similar to most health insurance plans, only covers health issues that arise after you sign up, not pre-existing conditions.

The main goal of this arrangement is to prioritise your health and that of your family. It ensures quick access to private healthcare when you need it.

How Much Does AXA Health Insurance Cost?

What might be best for now is to compare AXA with other major UK health insurance providers:

InsurerExcessOutpatient CoverMonthly Premium
National Friendly£250£500~£55

Sample AXA health insurance quotes may seem higher at first, but you get a lot for the plan, and there are ways to lower the premium.

Additional Cover

If you want more options beyond the core coverage, these additional covers will increase the AXA health insurance cost accordingly:

Additional OptionCost Adjustment
Immediate access+£5
Standard outpatient+£5
Full outpatient+£15
Dentist and optician+£10
Travel optionFrom +£12
Mental health+£3
Reduce excess to 0+£8

AXA Health Insurance Options

AXA offers a nice range of coverage options tailored to meet specific needs:

Private Health Insurance

AXA offers private health insurance that gives you quick access to experts and specialists, along with treatment at private hospitals or clinics if needed. This insurance works alongside the NHS, which still provides Accident and Emergency services and certain critical illness treatments.

You get:

  • Doctor@Hand digital GP service — 24/7 access to online appointments, diagnosis, specialist referrals, and prescription deliveries.
  • Health@Hand support line — Available around the clock with nurses and counsellors to answer your questions.
  • Fast track appointments — Quick access to consultants and physiotherapists.
  • Wide network — Access to over 250 hospitals and more than 36,500 recognised consultants and practitioners.

You can customise your coverage based on your needs. For example, your plan can include additional services, like full outpatient and treatment with psychologists and cognitive behavioural therapists.

Family Health Insurance

  • Free cover for new arrivals — When your baby is born, they’re automatically covered under your health insurance plan. Just give AXA a quick call to add them to your policy.
  • Extra cancer cover — You’ll have access to a team of fully trained midwives for reassurance and support. They’ll check in with you and your baby to ensure everything is going smoothly.
  • Cover for young ones — The family cover includes treatments for children under 14, like correcting prominent ears or birthmarks that affect confidence. However, this is subject to no planned or pending treatment.
  • Accommodation when your child’s in hospital — If your child needs hospital treatment, AXA covers accommodation costs for one parent and contributes towards a nearby hotel for another.
  • Answers when you need them — Get reliable health information online and reach out to the team 24/7 for any questions about your family’s health. They can also send written information and follow up with a call for further assistance.

The cost of this plan can change a lot because there are factors affecting it compared to individual plans.

Dental Insurance

AXA has two levels of dental insurance, depending on whether you prefer private or NHS treatment. Both cover routine check-ups, x-rays, and hygiene treatments, as well as fillings, crowns, and dentures. They also include coverage for dental emergencies abroad.

Just keep in mind that there are exclusions and limits to what’s covered, so it’s important to check the details for different standard and emergency conditions in each plan.

International Health Cover

AXA’s international health cover plans are customisable and cater to those living long-term overseas, especially in areas with limited public health services. Here’s what they offer:

  • Access to Virtual Doctor service for 24/7 consultations with a real doctor online or by phone.
  • Referral to Mind Health service for support from a psychologist.
  • Coverage for overnight hospital stays, ambulance transport, CT/MRI/PET scans, surgeries, and cancer treatments.
  • Medical evacuation and repatriation if local treatment isn’t available.

You’re covered worldwide, and your coverage moves with you, whether you’re moving between countries or travelling far away. You can also choose to exclude the USA from your coverage to lower your premiums. However, most plans still offer emergency coverage in the USA, even if you exclude it.

What Does AXA Health Insurance Cover?

Let’s review the AXA health insurance policy, starting from care cover and moving on to extra options.

Core Cover

Here’s a summary of the core benefits included in the comprehensive cover:

  • Fast access to private healthcare — Quick access to medical treatment with a wide network of hospitals and specialists available.
  • 24/7 health support line — Clear and up-to-date information and support from experienced health professionals, day and night.
  • Cover for hospital fees — Coverage for in-patient and day-patient treatment fees, including surgery costs, specialist fees, diagnostic tests, and nursing care.
  • Cancer cover — Rapid access to diagnosis and treatment, with support from experienced cancer nurses.
  • Support for muscle, bone, and joint pain — Expert assistance, available online or by phone without the need for a GP referral.
  • Specialist menopause support — You can rely on specialist menopause support from accredited gynaecologists if your GP can’t manage your symptoms. This includes an outpatient option with a GP referral included in your plan.

There’s also access to prescription drugs with some limitations.

Immediate Access or 6-Week Option

There are two levels of immediacy coverage available. The first is immediate private treatment, which costs more but gives you instant access to private care when diagnosed by your GP.

The 6-week NHS option is cheaper. It covers private treatment only if the NHS can’t treat you within 6 weeks of diagnosis, mainly for serious conditions like cancer. This option doesn’t include visits to therapists or practitioners.

Either way, you get advice and support from AXA specialists once diagnosed by your GP.

In-Patient and Day-Patient Treatment

In-patient care means receiving treatment in a hospital where you stay overnight or longer, typically for serious conditions. Day-patient care is when you receive treatment in a hospital but don’t stay overnight. However, you still need a hospital bed in a day-patient unit for your treatment. Both types of care often involve surgical procedures.

With AXA, you get a full cover for hospital services, including operating-theatre costs, nursing care, medications, consultations, diagnostic tests like CT scans, MRI scans, PET scans, and physiotherapy. These services are available at hospitals listed in the AXA Health Directory of Hospitals.

No matter your coverage, you can talk to experienced doctors via video or phone and receive an independent Second Opinion. If needed, there’s also evacuation and repatriation service to ensure you get care.

Outpatient Treatment

Under AXA PPP, there are three outpatient options available:

Standard Outpatient Option

What you get covered:

  • Specialist consultations — You can have up to two visits with a specialist each year.
  • Diagnostic tests — There’s no yearly limit on these when your specialist refers them.

Enhanced Outpatient Option

Here, you get a wider coverage:

  • Specialist consultations — Up to four visits with a specialist each year.
  • Diagnostic tests — No yearly limit on these when your specialist refers them.
  • Fees for practitioners — No yearly limit on fees for nurses, dieticians, orthoptists, speech therapists, and audiologists.

Full Outpatient Option

The highest level includes:

  • Specialist consultations — As many visits as needed throughout the year without any yearly limit.
  • Diagnostic tests — No restriction on the number of diagnostic tests.
  • Fees for practitioners — No yearly cap on fees for nurses, dieticians, orthoptists, speech therapists, and audiologists.

No Outpatient Option

The ’no outpatient’ option provides coverage for outpatient surgery, scans, and diagnostic tests, but it doesn’t include consultations or therapist services.

Guided Option

With the Guided option, you pay less for using specialists that AXA has selected. You get discounted premiums because the costs of services are lowered through AXA’s negotiated rates. This option allows you to choose from up to three specialists and book an appointment at your preferred time and date.

However, please note that unauthorized treatment will not be covered under this plan.

NHS Cancer Support

The standard cancer coverage is really thorough. It covers everything you need for cancer treatment and drugs without any limits after you’re diagnosed.

With the NHS cancer support option, you pay lower premiums, but your treatment is through public medical services. You still get extra drug coverage and support services privately. If a specialist recommends a licensed cancer drug that the NHS won’t cover, AXA will foot the bill if it’s approved by them and meets these criteria:

  • The drug is recommended and prescribed by a specialist, and it’s used as per its license terms.
  • They’ve given the green light for the drug treatment beforehand.
  • The drug is licensed by either the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency or the European Medicines Agency.
  • The drug is meant to slow down cancer growth.

AXA has got you covered for external prostheses expenses up to £5,000 post-surgery.

Comprehensive Cancer Care

The comprehensive cancer plan covers everything related to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, including treatments not approved by the NHS due to cost. What’s included:

  • Dedicated case manager — You’ll have someone dedicated to guiding you through your cancer treatment.
  • Private hospital stays and tests — AXA covers the fees for stays in private hospitals, day-patient units, and scanning centres listed in their directory. There’s no yearly limit on diagnostic tests for in-patients and day patients.
  • Specialist fees and consultations — Fees for specialists treating your cancer are covered with no yearly limit. Consultations with these specialists as an outpatient are also covered.
  • Drug treatments — They cover chemotherapy and biological therapies with no time limit. They also cover licensed drugs not routinely available on the NHS, subject to your medical history and chosen coverage options.
  • Radiotherapy — Costs for radiotherapy, including for pain relief, are covered.
  • Wigs and prostheses — Expenses for wigs (up to £400/year) and prostheses (up to £5,000/year) needed during active cancer treatment are covered.
  • Monitoring and follow-ups — AXA covers monitoring and follow-up consultations.

Please note that his coverage is available only if you haven’t had cancer before getting AXA’s Personal Health Plan.

Dentist and Optician Cashback

Basic cashback plan:

  • Dentist fees — You get 80% of what you pay for dental treatment back, up to a maximum of £400 per year.
  • Eye tests — You can get up to £25 refunded for an eye test each year.
  • Glasses and contacts — You’ll receive 80% of the cost of glasses and contact lenses back, with a yearly limit of £200.

Cashback Plus plan:

  • Dentist fees — You get 100% of what you pay for dental treatment back, up to a maximum of £500 per year.
  • Eye tests — Same as before.
  • Glasses and contacts — You’ll receive 100% of the cost of glasses and contact lenses back, up to £300 per year.
  • Dental accident benefit — You’re covered for dental accidents up to £10,000 per year, with a maximum cashback of £2,500 per incident, and you can claim for up to four incidents per year.

Hospital List

AXA has a single UK private hospital directory with over 250 hospitals and more than 36,000 recognised consultants and other healthcare practitioners.

Medical Underwriting Options

AXA provides two underwriting options for healthcare insurance: full medical underwriting and moratorium. By default, AXA uses moratorium unless stated otherwise. It involves no medical declaration but limits coverage for conditions experienced or treated in the past five years, subject to waiting two years and being symptom-free for two years.

With full medical underwriting, you provide a medical history for everyone covered, and AXA informs you about excluded conditions, usually pre-existing ones. Accuracy is key; incorrect information could cancel your plan.

It’s not advised to delay treatment to get coverage, as AXA won’t cover known conditions during the waiting period, even if you see a doctor.

AXA Also Offers

Here are more benefits covered under AXA’s main plan:

  • NHS cash benefit — If you choose NHS treatment that AXA would normally cover privately, you’ll receive £50 per night, up to a total of £2,000 each year.
  • Private ambulance — AXA will cover the full cost of a private ambulance if needed.
  • Oral surgery — Eligible treatment will be fully covered.
  • Home nursing — If you need a nurse to administer antibiotics via intravenous drip at home, AXA will cover the full cost.

Extra Options

Extra options are available for an additional fee, but they can be beneficial for certain members. At AXA PPP, you can choose the following:


You’re covered for visits to osteopaths, physiotherapists, acupuncturists, and chiropractors. AXA approves ongoing sessions based on specialist advice. If your GP or AXA refers you, you can have up to 10 sessions a year for physiotherapy, chiropractic, or osteopathic care (but chiropractic care needs a GP referral).

Mental Health

AXA covers mental health treatment for in-patient or day-patient care, including psychiatric treatment (counsellors, cognitive behavioural therapists, etc.), accommodation, diagnostic tests, and medications, all fully paid for at a hospital or day-patient unit listed in AXA’s Directory of Hospitals. There’s no yearly limit on specialist fees.

Extended Cover Option

You can choose Extended Cover for more freedom in where you can get treated:

  • Treatment at your chosen facility in the UK, paying all costs up to normal daily rates.
  • Up to five consultations with a virtual GP.
  • Pre-approved treatment abroad, covering costs up to the UK equivalent.
  • Full coverage for specialists without fee limits.
  • Routine care for chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or thyroid problems.

Travel Options

AXA’s travel insurance offers comprehensive coverage for medical emergencies abroad, including such travel incidents as lost or damaged baggage, flight delays, and lost passports. You can customise your plan for travel within Europe or worldwide, with additional options like dental coverage and coverage for adventure sports available for worldwide travel plans.

Can I Get Health Insurance If I Have an Existing Medical Condition?

You can get AXA PPP insurance even if you have existing medical conditions. Bear in mind that there’s a 2-year wait before coverage for those conditions starts as long as you haven’t had treatment during that time. AXA won’t cover treatment for conditions you had before getting the policy, and they don’t cover ongoing (chronic) medical conditions either, even if diagnosed during your policy term. Other situations not covered will be listed shortly.

Does AXA Health Insurance Cover Prescriptions?

AXA doesn’t provide coverage for prescriptions. But members have the option to pay for them privately, although the cost may exceed the NHS charge. However, if your NHS GP prescribes medication, you will only be required to pay the NHS charge.

Do I Have to Pay Towards My Treatment?

You can choose to pay an excess amount towards your medical treatment costs, which is only required once per year for each person claiming. For instance, if you select a £100 excess and make a £1,000 claim, AXA covers £900, and you pay the £100 excess. AXA’s excess options range from £100 to £5,000. Your chosen excess affects your premium; the higher the excess, the lower the premiums.

What Is Not Covered on AXA Health Insurance?

  • Pre-existing and chronic conditions
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Infertility treatment
  • Birth control
  • Gender reassignment
  • Treatment for alcoholism or substance abuse
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • GP referred diagnostic tests
  • Professional sports injuries
  • Treatment with specialists not recognised by AXA
  • Private cancer treatment (except if you have a specific cancer cover)
  • Mental health, dental, and alternative therapies are not covered by default but can be added for an additional fee.

Options to Reduce Your Health Insurance Premiums

Here are some ways members can manage plan costs:

  • Choose a higher excess to lower premiums.
  • Use NHS services before private options.
  • Pay yearly for a 5% discount.
  • Maintain or buy back your no claims discount to keep it at a higher level.
  • Consider removing unnecessary extra options.
  • Opt for specialists and hospitals from AXA’s provided list to save money.
  • Plus, staying claims-free can earn you discounts. If you want to learn more, reach out to AXA’s team, and they will guide you through all the available options.

How Can You Lower the Cost of AXA Health Insurance?

For most people, it comes down to the amount of policy excess. If you’re generally healthy, hardly ever visit the doctor, and have enough money saved for unexpected medical needs, it’s better to pick a high excess. Also, review your current plan and compare it with other options offered by AXA. You may find a more cost-effective plan that still provides adequate coverage for your needs. Another interesting fact is that AXA offers a 10% discount when you switch to their healthcare plans from another provider. AXA members also get access to discounted health assessments and gym memberships (up to 40%). Although it’s not a premium discount, it’s still one of the savings options available.

When Does AXA Health Insurance Reset?

AXA resets its limit, the most AXA will pay for your claims within one year of your policy, every year. If you use up this amount, it refreshes at the start of the next policy year.

Can I Switch My Existing Health Insurance Cover to AXA?

Yes, give AXA PPP a call at 0800 111 4004, and they’ll guide you through the process. They’ll ask you a few questions about your health, but there’s no need for a check-up. Plus, they handle all the paperwork for you. You can continue your medical insurance coverage without any interruptions, depending on the plan you select. If you’re changing employment and moving from a corporate insurance plan, check out this leaflet for the details.

How to Cancel AXA Health Insurance UK?

Follow these steps to contact AXA directly:

  1. Call AXA’s Personal Advisory Team at 0800 454 080.
  2. Ask them to cancel your membership.
  3. After asking a few follow-up questions, the representative will do the rest.

Unfortunately, cancellations can’t be processed via email.

Can You Cancel Health Insurance at Any Time at AXA?

Yes, but if you do it after the first 14 days, you’ll be charged for the coverage you’ve used, plus an admin fee. Cancelling your renewal is free.


This concludes everything you need to know about AXA — it’s comprehensive, trustworthy, and dedicated to providing quality services. Hopefully, you’ve found the information you wanted to make an educated decision about your insurance. When it comes to applying, we suggest considering the help of a specialist. They can easily compare policies and find the best prices and benefits that suit your needs perfectly.