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Health insurance for over 65s pays out for private treatment if you fall ill

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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 1st, 2023

What is health insurance for over 65s?

Health insurance for over 65s pays out for private treatment if you fall ill, are injured or diagnosed with an acute medical condition during your policy’s term. 

Acute conditions are ailments that come on quickly, require urgent attention, and can be resolved through treatment. 

Health policies, which are also known as private medical insurance or PMI, typically exclude chronic conditions that require long-term care or are incurable. If your claim is covered by the policy, you could be able to get faster treatment than the NHS can provide.


Private medical insurance typically excludes chronic conditions that require long-term care or are incurable.”

Can I get private health insurance if I’m over 65?

Affordable health insurance can be trickier to find when you approach or reach retirement age. This is because you’re more likely to fall ill, develop certain medical conditions and suffer injuries as you age.

The good news is there are plenty of specialist policies that should give you the cover you need. Being tailored for the older age bracket, with policy elements that are less relevant stripped out, they may be cheaper than you’d expect.

Investing in the right private medical insurance for you, should help you get prompt diagnosis and faster treatment if and when required. 

Ultimately, it could make all the difference when it comes to making a successful recovery.

If you’re keen to get health cover, but struggling to find the right policy, contact the British Insurance Brokers’ Association.

Do I need health insurance for over 65s?

Private medical insurance isn’t essential because the UK has an excellent health service. The NHS offers free treatment to everyone, which is a major plus as not everyone can afford to pay for private healthcare. 

But, if you can afford it, health insurance offers the reassurance that you’ll be seen promptly if your health takes a turn for the worse. You might decide that the greater choice of treatments, shorter waiting times and pleasant settings make it worth every penny.

How to choose the best health insurance for over 65s

It’s important that you find the right cover for your needs, so here are three things to consider during the decision-making process:

What does the policy cover?

Each policy covers a range of medical conditions and treatments. Check that the policy you’re looking at gives you the cover you need.

What conditions do you have?

Think about which conditions you want covered when you get older, perhaps because they run in the family. These could be ones that cover heart conditions or joint replacements.

How much does it cost?

Although price isn’t as important as getting the right cover, compare policies for everything you need. Take note of any excess fees you’d have to pay to make a claim, then choose the right policy at the best price.

What are the benefits of health insurance for seniors?

The benefits of health insurance when you’re 65, 70 or older are similar to those of health insurance at any age, and can include:

  • Greater choice when it comes to tests and treatments, including some that aren’t available on the NHS

  • Shorter waiting times 

  • Access to private hospitals

  • A private room

  • Your own television and ensuite bathroom if you stay overnight

  • More choice and control over when and where you’re treated

How much cover will I get with health insurance for over 65s?

Basic

This covers you for inpatient treatment only, including overnight stays.

Medium

This covers you for inpatient and outpatient treatment.

Comprehensive

This covers you for inpatient and outpatient appointments, a range of additional treatments, such as physiotherapy and mental health care, as well as pre-treatment diagnostic tests and MRI scans.

How much cover will I get with health insurance for over 65s?

Basic

This covers you for inpatient treatment only, including overnight stays.

Medium

This covers you for inpatient and outpatient treatment.

Comprehensive

This covers you for inpatient and outpatient appointments, a range of additional treatments, such as physiotherapy and mental health care, as well as pre-treatment diagnostic tests and MRI scans.

Is there an age limit for health insurance for over 65s?

Providers of medical insurance for seniors sometimes set an upper age limit, such as 70,75 or even 85. 

According to the British Medical Association most insurers will only offer over 75s a fully underwritten policy, meaning they’d take a closer look at your medical history and need to contact your GP

If you find a particular policy that has an age 75 cut-off, you couldn’t apply for cover if you’re 76. 

But, if you're 75, you could get this policy even if you’d turn 76 during the term. All you need do is be prepared to switch to another one at the end of the cover term.

Other policies have no upper age limit, so you can keep renewing them annually for the rest of your life.

Remember that the price of health insurance usually goes up as you get older. Work out what level of cover you want, then compare policies that fit the bill. From those, you can choose the cheapest.

Remember that the price of health insurance usually goes up as you get older.”

How much does health insurance for over 65s cost?

Finding the right cover is more important than finding the cheapest policy. Once you know what cover you want, start looking for the best-priced policy that meets your needs.

There are a few things you can do to lower the cost of your policy. For example:

  • Avoid too many add-ons: Optional extras push up the price of your monthly premium. Don’t pay for anything you don’t think you’ll need or you’d be happy to have done on the NHS

  • Up your excess: Opting to pay a higher excess, which you’d stump up in the event of a claim, could see you pay less for your policy

  • Look into the six-week rule: Some health insurance policies only pay out if the NHS wait is longer than six weeks. Choosing such a policy could save you a lot of money

  • Reduce your hospital list: Having fewer private hospitals to choose from could cut the price of your policy

  • Look after yourself: Some insurers offer discounts if you have a healthy lifestyle. Non-smokers and non-vapers, as well as those who stay active or have a lower body mass index (BMI) are likely to get the best deals. Some insurers conduct a medical examination or questionnaire before they cover you

FAQs

Will health insurance cover my existing conditions?

In terms of health insurance covering existing conditions, it depends. Some policies include cover for declared conditions, but many exclude them. 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 will charge more if you have existing conditions. With others, you’d only pay more if you want to cover treatment for them. Smokers invariably pay more for private health insurance.

Which hospitals or doctors can seniors use?

Most insurers give you a choice of several medical facilities when you are 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 or use your policy to pay for private treatment.

Does health insurance cover me while I’m abroad?

Health insurance usually only covers treatment in the UK, but you may be able to find overseas cover through a broker. You could also get medical cover from your travel insurance but check the age limits and any exclusions.

Can I get health insurance if I’m disabled?

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

Can we get a joint policy as an older couple?

Yes, if neither of you is older than a specific joint policy’s upper age limit. Joint health insurance can sometimes be cheaper than separate policies, but always run comparisons for both single and joint cover.

Explore our health insurance guides

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About the author

Lucinda O'Brien
Lucinda O'Brien has spent the past 10 years writing and editing content for regional and national titles. She applies her industry knowledge to ensure readers can make confident financial decisions.

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