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Health insurance for over 70s

Health insurance for the over 70s could make you more comfortable and get you the best car if you need hospital treatment. Get quotes and you could find the private cover you need.

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Last updated: 16 June, 2021

Can over 70s get health insurance?

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. However, your options are more limited than they would be if you were younger.

How to find the right health insurance for over 70s

It’s important to find a policy that works for you. To find the right policy, you’ll need to think about:

  1. The level of cover you want

  2. Your medical history.

Working out what you need can help you find the best policy to suit you. Use our broker to get quotes for over 70s health insurance.

Work out the over 70s health insurance cover you need

Health insurance can cover you if you’re:

  • A day patient – where you attend appointments and don't stay overnight

  • An inpatient – where you stay in 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:

  1. Treatment only: A budget option that covers just day and in-patient treatments

  2. Mid-range: Which covers day, in-patient and some outpatient treatments

  3. Comprehensive: Where 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 if you need to see certain types of specialist like:

  • a dentist

  • an optician

  • an audiologist

  • a mental health expert.

Some insurers can even cover alternative treatments like osteopathy and acupuncture. However, it’s likely to cost extra to include this kind of cover. Before you decide, check if having these options will increase the cost of cover and think about how much you want or need extras like these.

Declare your medical history when you take out 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 can invalidate your policy, and leave you uninsured.

If you need your medical records, you should be able to get these from your GP. Or, you can give the insurer your permission to access your medical records via your GP.

What is not covered by over 70s health insurance?

There are some conditions that are excluded from most health insurance policies, regardless of your age. 

You should check your policy as you not be covered for things like:

  • organ transplants

  • 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 acute conditions, which you develop and can be treated, like the need for a joint replacement.

Does health insurance for over 70s cost more?

The cost of health insurance will usually increase once you’re over 50. That’s because older people are statistically likely to claim more frequently for treatment and diagnoses.

These claims cost the insurance company more money, so they charge higher premiums to insure older customers.

Someone in their 70s could pay up to three times as much for health insurance than someone in their 30s would.

Even if you’ve got 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 they can go up annually.

How to lower the cost of over 70s health insurance

You can make your policy cheaper in several ways. For example, you could:

  • Prove you have a healthy lifestyle, e.g. by exercising regularly

  • 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:

  • Having a no claims discount: Once you’ve had a health insurance policy for a number of years, your premiums could get cheaper if you haven’t made any claims

  • Increasing the excess: The excess is the amount you have to pay towards the costs of treatment yourself, when you make a claim. Choosing a higher level of excess will usually make your premiums lower. But doing so of course makes claiming on the policy more expensive, so you need to make sure you could afford to claim if you needed to 

  • Adding a wait period: This is a clause you can add to your policy. You agree a wait period with your insurer, such as six weeks. Then, if the NHS waiting list is shorter than your wait period, you must get your treatment through the NHS instead. If the waiting list is longer, your policy pays for private treatment. Including this in your policy will usually lower the premiums

  • Using nominated hospitals: Your premium could be cheaper if you only choose to be covered at a limited number of hospitals or surgeries. Check that the ones you choose are near to your hometown, or offer the specialist treatment or facilities you may need

  • Proving your health: Some insurers reduce your premiums if you regularly exercise and don’t smoke.

How to make a claim on your health insurance for over 70s

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 onto your insurer, such as:

  • Your diagnosis or symptoms and when they began

  • If and when you spoke to your GP

  • The treatment your doctor’s recommended.

Once you’re ready to start your claim, you can book a medical appointment and begin the process by:

  • Phoning your insurer and asking for a referral to a specialist.

  • Visiting your insurer's website to set up an online account. This’ll usually let 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, you then need to contact your insurer by phone or online. You can check they can cover your treatment, and start the claims process. They’ll send you any paperwork you have to complete, and ask you for all the details they need.

Do I need over 70s health insurance?

It’s not a necessity. The free healthcare in the UK is excellent, so it’s totally your call 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 could afford private treatment without insurance, should you want it.

What are the pros of health insurance for over 70s?

Of course, there are lots of benefits of having health insurance over 70s, even if it does come at a high price. These include:

  • Specialist referrals – for second opinions or expert input

  • Faster treatment – no long NHS waiting lists

  • More choice – you can choose your treatment times, locations and surgeons

  • Specialist treatments – you might be able to access specialist drugs and treatments that aren’t available on the NHS

  • Private rooms – no mixed wards as in NHS hospitals.

What are the cons of over 70s health insurance?

There are potentially downsides to having over 70s health insurance too. These include:

  • Expense – medical insurance for over 70s isn’t 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

  • Appointments may not be local – you might have to travel to see certain private experts.

It’s down to you to weigh up whether over 70s health insurance is worth having or not.

Health insurance for over 70s FAQs

Yes, you can still use the NHS to get free treatment.

You will need to contact your insurer. Here is how you can claim on your health insurance.

No, health insurance is not a legal requirement but you can get treated sooner and receive better facilities if you have it.

No, the majority of policies only cover treatment in the UK. If abroad, some insurers provide medical cover as part of travel insurance.

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