If you’re over 70, health insurance could make your life more comfortable and help you find the best care should you need hospital treatment. Compare quotes to find the private cover you need.
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Yes, if you’re over 70, you can still get health insurance.
Private health insurance for over-70s works in the same way as it does for other age groups, but your options are more limited than they are for younger people.
Health insurance can offer you cover whatever type of patient you are:
A day patient, where you attend appointments and don’t stay overnight
An in-patient, where you stay in a hospital overnight during treatment
An outpatient, where you receive hospital treatment without staying overnight
There are several cover options available. Our comparison includes options like:
Treatment-only: a budget option that covers just day and in-patient treatments
Mid-range: covers day, in-patient and some outpatient treatments
Comprehensive: all day, in-patient and outpatient treatments are covered. It can include extras, but this depends on the insurer and the policy you choose
Some policies can also cover you if you need to see certain types of specialists like:
a mental health expert
Some insurers cover alternative treatments, such as osteopathy and acupuncture. However, this kind of cover usually costs extra. Before you decide, check if these options increase the cost of cover and think about how much you want or need them.
There are some conditions that are excluded from most health insurance policies, regardless of your age.
You should check your policy as you probably won’t be covered for things like:
pre-existing conditions (which you had before you took out your policy)
chronic conditions that you have for life, like diabetes, HIV, epilepsy or asthma
You should be covered for most treatable acute conditions that develop after you’ve taken out a policy, like joint replacements.
It’s not essential. The UK offers healthcare that’s free at the point of use, so it’s up to you whether you’d like the extra protection of having over-70s health insurance.
It comes down to whether you have the money to pay for it and whether you can afford private treatment without insurance, should you want or need it.
There are many benefits to having over-70s health insurance, even if it does come with expensive premiums. These include:
Specialist referrals – for second opinions or expert input
Faster treatment – no long NHS waiting lists
More choice – you pick your treatment times, locations and surgeons
Specialist treatments – you may gain access to specialist drugs and treatments that aren’t available on the NHS
Private rooms – no mixed wards as in NHS hospitals
There are potential downsides to having over-70s health insurance too. These include:
Expense – medical insurance for over-70s doesn’t come cheap
Not all illnesses are covered – especially chronic ones
NHS care could be better – you’ll get priority emergency treatment on the NHS if you have a stroke or heart attack. Of course, having private insurance does not prevent you from using the NHS
Appointments may not be local – you might have to travel long distances to see certain private experts
You should weigh up both benefits and drawbacks before deciding if over-70s health insurance is worth having.
Almost certainly. The cost of health insurance usually increases once you’re over 50 because older people are statistically more likely to claim for treatment and diagnoses. So, to offset their increased costs, insurance companies charge older customers higher premiums.
Someone in their 70s could pay up to three times as much for health insurance compared to someone in their 30s.
Even if you have an existing health insurance policy, it’s likely to get more expensive as you get older. The cost of the premiums isn’t fixed for life. Health insurance premiums are usually reviewed every year and so can go up annually.
You can make your policy cheaper in several ways. For example, you could:
choose a policy that only covers certain conditions and treatments
limit the number of hospitals and clinics covered by your policy
Other ways to lower the cost of private health insurance include the following:
Build a no-claims discount: your premiums could fall if you’ve had a health insurance policy for a number of years without making any claims
Increase the excess: raising the amount you pay towards the cost of treatment when you make a claim can lower your premiums. Obviously, this increases the costs of claiming on the policy, so make sure you set the excess at a realistically affordable level
Add a waiting period: this is a clause you can add to your policy whereby you agree to wait for a period, such as six weeks, before making a claim. If the NHS waiting list is shorter than your wait period, you must get your treatment through the NHS instead. If the waiting time is longer, your policy pays for private treatment. Including this clause in your policy usually lowers the premiums
Use nominated hospitals: your premium could be cheaper if you opt to only be covered at a limited number of hospitals or surgeries. Check that the ones you choose are near to your home or offer the specialist treatment or facilities you may need
Prove your level of health: some insurers reduce your premiums if you regularly exercise and don’t smoke
It’s important to find a policy that works for you rather than simply choosing the cheapest one available. To find the right policy, you need to think about:
the level of cover you want
your medical history
Working out what you need can help you find the most suitable policy. Use our broker to get quotes for over-70s health insurance.
Most insurers offering over 70s health insurance – or any insurance for older adults – only offer underwritten policies. This means they’ll need detailed information about your medical history before they can give you a quote.
Always be honest about your medical history. Incorrect or withheld information could invalidate your policy and leave you uninsured.
If you need your medical records, you should be able to get these from your GP. Alternatively, give the insurer your permission to access your medical records via your GP.
It shouldn’t be too tricky to make a claim when you need to.
Check your policy documents to find:
your insurer’s contact number and details
your policy or membership number
Note down the details you need to pass on to your insurer, such as:
your diagnosis or symptoms and when they began
if and when you spoke to your GP
the treatment recommended by your doctor
Once you’re ready to start your claim, you can book a medical appointment and begin the process. This can include:
phoning your insurer and asking for a referral to a specialist
visiting your insurer’s website to set up an online account. This usually lets you start a claim
going to see your GP, who can refer you for specialist treatment. Some insurers need an Open Referral letter from your GP, which describes what treatment you need
If your GP refers you for treatment, contact your insurer by phone or online. Verify it can cover your treatment and then start the claims process. It’ll send you any paperwork you have to complete and ask for all the details required.
Yes, you can still use the NHS to get free treatment.
No, health insurance is not a legal requirement, but you can get treated sooner and receive a better service if you have it.
Compare health insurance quotes to find a deal that works for you.
By comparing health insurance, you could save money on the policy. The best value health insurance will offer the cover to you and your family need at an affordable price. Choose a cover plan from the best UK health insurance companies and see the online discounts they offer.
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Last updated: 13 May 2022