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Get covered for getting medical treatment by taking out private health insurance

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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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Last updated
December 1, 2023

What is health insurance?

Having health insurance means that some – or all – of the cost of private healthcare treatment will be covered if you’re ill or injured. Without medical insurance, the bill for private healthcare can run to the tens of thousands of pounds.

Even though the NHS offers free healthcare in the UK, many people still like to have private health insurance. That’s because it comes with added benefits, such as faster treatment for long-term conditions and more flexibility about where you're treated.

You can either get single policy health insurance which is just for you, or you can get a joint or family policy to cover your loved ones too.

Read more about how health insurance works here.

Private health insurance offers services that aren't available on the NHS, such as access to specialist treatment and private rooms.“

Why get private health insurance?

Private medical insurance offers a range of benefits not available on the NHS. These include:

Shorter waiting time

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

Physiotherapy

Private health insurance 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

Private cover can include treatment from specialists that aren't on the NHS

What types of health insurance policies can I get?

Basic health insurance cover

Usually pays for inpatient treatments and stays.

Medium health insurance cover

Usually covers outpatient care as well time in the hospital.

Comprehensive health insurance

Includes all the above, plus cover for treatments such as physiotherapy.

What types of health insurance policies can I get?

Basic health insurance cover

Usually pays for inpatient treatments and stays.

Medium health insurance cover

Usually covers outpatient care as well time in the hospital.

Comprehensive health insurance

Includes all the above, plus cover for treatments such as physiotherapy.

How to get the best health insurance policy

Follow the following steps:

Compare our health insurance deals

Enter your details to compare polices. View the results, and choose the deal that best suits your lifestyle and the needs of you or your family.

Fill in an application form from your chosen provider

Fill out the quote form for your chosen health insurance provider. You’ll need to include personal information, including any existing health conditions and your medical history.

Adjust for the level of cover you need

Tell your provider how much cover you’ll need to meet the cost of your health insurance bills, selecting any optional extras you think are important.

Wait for your results to see if you're accepted

Your health insurance will start after the application is accepted. If it’s rejected select an alternative provider.

How much does private health care insurance cost?

The cost of your medical insurance is affected by many factors, such as: 

  • Your age – the price might increase with every birthday

  • Your medical history – your insurer will want to know about pre-existing conditions

  • Your family medical history – as this may be relevant to your own health

  • Where you live – London is more expensive than other areas of the UK

  • Your lifestyle – your insurer will want to know about your habits, such as whether you drink, smoke or exercise

  • What you want to be covered for – you’ll need to decide how much cover you want

With private healthcare insurance, there are two costs to think about. 

The first is the cost of your health insurance policy and the second is your excess - how much of the claim you pay yourself.

Of course, you want the best private health insurance so you can access the private medical care you want. So, bear this in mind when shopping around for insurance, rather than just pick the cheapest cover.

Can I get health insurance for my business?

Yes, you can obtain health insurance for your business. This type of insurance is commonly referred to as “business health insurance”, "company health insurance" or "corporate health insurance". 

It offers your staff a range of benefits, including quicker access to medical treatments and services, which can contribute to the well-being of your employees and enhance their job satisfaction. When considering health insurance for your business, you'll typically have several options to explore. Private health insurance plans can be tailored to suit the specific needs of your company and its workforce. These plans may cover various medical services, specialist consultations, and even access to private hospitals.

The process of obtaining business health insurance involves selecting the most appropriate plan from a variety of providers and tailoring it to meet the needs of your employees. 

Insurance companies can work with you to customise coverage based on factors such as the size of your company, industry, and budget.”

Does health insurance include dental cover?

UK health insurance providers might also offer private dental insurance as an additional extra. If you’re unable to use an NHS dentist, a dental plan can cover the cost of routine consultations and emergency procedures.

You’ll usually have to pay the dentist first, then claim the money back through your dental insurance plan. Some cosmetic procedures, such as teeth whitening, won’t be covered by dental insurance.

Costs of dental treatment can vary wildly across the country, so private dental insurance may be the best option for you if your preferred dentist is particularly expensive.”

UK dental costs can quickly add up, so a private dental insurance plan could potentially save you money.

It is worth considering that best dental insurance can be more valuable depending on where you live. The costs of dental treatment can vary wildly across the country, so private dental insurance may be the best option for you if your preferred dentist is particularly expensive.

It is also important to remember that unlike standard hospital treatment or medical appointments, NHS dental procedures and consultations still cost money for most people. If you usually pay for dental treatment, whether through the NHS or a private dental insurance plan, it is worth weighing up your existing costs against buying a dental insurance plan.

FAQs

Will health insurance cover my existing conditions?

Some policies include cover for declared conditions, but many exclude them – and what’s covered may differ between policies. Here’s how cover for pre-existing conditions works.

Do I need a medical check before I get health insurance?

You might need a medical check before you get health insurance. With some policies, you’ll need to fill out a declaration about your health or undergo medical tests. Others, known as moratorium policies, don’t.

Will my health affect the cost of my insurance?

Some policies cost more if you have existing conditions. Others only charge you more if you need to cover treatment for them or they aren’t excluded. Smokers invariably pay more for private health insurance.

How can you reduce the cost of your private healthcare?

There are ways you could try  to reduce the cost of your private healthcare insurance. These include:

  • Agreeing to pay a higher excess when you make a claim

  • Proving to your private medical insurer that you live a healthy lifestyle – for example, by joining a gym, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet

  • Reducing the number of hospitals you have access to

  • Reducing the level of cover you have

  • Co-paying on claims, which is when you split the cost of treatment with your insurer

  • Paying annually rather than monthly

Which hospitals or doctors can I use?

In terms of which hospitals or doctors you can use, most policies allow you to choose between several medical facilities when you’re referred for treatment.

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

Yes, you can still use the NHS if you get health insurance. You can choose to get free treatment on the NHS, use your policy to pay for private treatment or a combination of both.

Does health insurance cover me abroad?

Health insurance doesn’t cover you when you’re abroad. Most policies only cover treatment in the UK, but you can get medical cover from your travel insurance if you go abroad.

Can I get health insurance for my family?

Yes, you can get health insurance for your partner or the whole family, which could prove cheaper than buying separate policies for everyone.

Can I get health insurance if I am disabled?

Yes, you can get health insurance if you’re disabled, but some providers might not cover treatment for conditions relating to a specific disability.

About the author

Salman Haqqi
Salman Haqqi spent over a decade as a journalist reporting in several countries around the world. Now as a personal finance expert, he helps people make informed financial decisions.

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