Can you get health insurance with pre-existing conditions?

Health insurance does not always cover existing medical conditions or any you have had in recent years. Here is what cover you can get and how to find it.
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If you have suffered health problems in the past or suffer from a chronic condition like asthma or diabetes, you may find that it is not covered by your health insurance.  Read our guide to learn more…

Can you get it?

Yes, you can get health insurance even if you have a pre-existing medical condition. But most policies restrict when they can pay out to treat pre-existing conditions.

What is a pre-existing condition?

A pre-existing medical condition is anything you have had medical treatment for in the past. This includes consultations, medication, surgery or any other treatment from the NHS or a private hospital.

Pre-existing conditions include:

  • Diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • Heart disease

  • Asthma

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Strokes

  • Cancer

  • Back pain that you needed surgery for

Most insurers count any condition you have had symptoms or treatment for in the past five years as pre-existing, even if it was diagnosed more than five years ago.

But some insurers include any conditions you have had treatment for during the past three years or seven years.

Read your insurance policy carefully to understand what cover you are buying.

What cover can you get?

You can take out most health insurance policies if you have existing conditions, but you may find that those conditions are not covered by the plan.

For example, if you have diabetes, most policies would pay for private treatment if you broke your leg but not for any symptoms linked to your diabetes.

Some insurers agree to cover certain conditions, especially if they decide they are minor or unlikely to occur again. Check a policy's terms to see which conditions it can include.

Most insurers agree to start covering a condition after you have been symptom-free for five years.

For example, if you had a back injury and stopped having treatment three years ago, your policy would not pay out for further treatment for it for two years.

But after two years it could cover back injuries again as long as you have had no treatment, medication or check-ups in that time.

What policies are available?

There are two types of underwriting insurance companies can use when you apply for a health insurance policy. Some let you choose which type of underwriting they use.

Full medical cover underwriting

Full underwriting lets you know for sure whether your pre-existing condition is covered or not.

You have to provide your insurer with extensive details of your medical history. This usually includes answering questions about your health and giving your insurer permission to access your medical records or contact your GP.

Insurers use this information to work out their risks and decide:

  • If they are happy to give you insurance

  • How much your policy will cost

  • What treatment and illnesses it can payout for

  • What conditions will be excluded   Whether they are willing to cover any of your pre-existing conditions

Moratorium underwriting

You do not have to provide detailed medical information when you apply for a policy using moratorium underwriting. But if you make a claim, your insurer will look into your medical history before they agree to pay for your treatment.

If your policy does not include pre-existing conditions and you try to claim for treatment for an illness you have had in the past five years (or other period specified in the terms and conditions of your policy) your insurer will reject your claim.

However, the good news is that if you suffer no symptoms during the moratorium period - typically two years - cover for some pre-existing conditions may be reinstated

Covering chronic conditions

Many policies exclude chronic conditions, but some let you pay extra to cover them.

Many policies exclude chronic conditions, but some let you pay extra to cover them.

Chronic conditions need ongoing and regular treatment to help you manage them rather than short term treatment to cure them. These include:

  • Diabetes

  • Asthma and hay fever

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

  • Skin conditions like eczema, acne and psoriasis

  • Glaucoma

Some policies can pay for one-off costs for your chronic condition like a hospital stay, but ongoing costs like medication or regular follow up appointments are not usually covered.

Where to find health insurance

You can find a policy using our health insurance comparison, which includes details of what cover each insurer offers.

But if you have pre-existing conditions you want your policy to cover, it may be helpful to speak to a health insurance broker.

Health insurance brokers look at your health and financial situation to provide you with quotes for policies that suit your circumstances and provide the cover you need.