Health insurance

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What is health insurance?

If you have an illness or injury, health insurance can cover private treatment for pre-agreed conditions and ailments.

Insurers sometimes refer to health insurance as private medical insurance (PMI) but in most cases the product is the same - although what’s covered will vary from policy to policy.

In July 2018, there were 4.1m people on NHS waiting lists, according to NHS England[†]

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What’s covered by health insurance?

Private health insurance could cover treatments like:

  • In-patient treatments, such as routine health checks, tests and surgery
  • Out-patient care, such as overnight stays
  • Cash benefit if private treatment takes place in an NHS ward or facility
  • The use of diagnostic equipment
  • Cost of appointments, plus the consultant's time
  • Prosthetics and wigs

What’s not covered by health insurance?

Health insurance policies don’t generally cover:

  • Chronic conditions
  • GP services
  • Accident and emergency admissions
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Drug abuse
  • Self-inflicted injuries
  • Infertility
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Preventative treatment
  • Mobility aids

Types of health insurance

Getting the right health insurance is crucial. First things first, work out which type you’ll need:

Individual health insurance

This is a policy that covers you for private medical care.

You might already have health insurance through your employer so it’s worth checking before you take out a policy.

Joint health insurance

Will cover you and your partner on the same policy.

It can be easier to only have to deal with one provider, but check whether it works out cheaper than separate policies first.

Child health insurance

Provides cover for your children, should they need medical care.

Family health insurance

Family health insurance can cover the whole family for one monthly premium.

It’ll pay out a cash sum should anyone need medical assistance.

Find out more >

Dental insurance

Dental insurance can pay out to help you with NHS or private treatment.

You’ll pay an upfront sum and then claim it back through your insurance.

Find out more >

International health insurance

International health insurance can protect you and your family while you’re living abroad.

This could save you from shelling out a huge amount on medical fees.

Find out more >

Healthcare cash plans

With healthcare cash plans, you pay a monthly premium and, if you receive medical treatment, send the receipt to your insurer who will reimburse you.

Find out more >

How to get health insurance

Here are a few things we might ask you for:

  1. Details about your cover

    When you want it to start, your budget and your postcode

  2. Your details

    Some basic things like your name, date of birth and who you want the policy to cover

  3. Who is it for?

    Who do you want the policy to cover?

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How can I cut the cost of health insurance?

You could reduce your monthly premiums by:

  1. Cutting down on smoking

    Non-smokers usually get a cheaper deal

  2. Seeing what your job package offers

    Your company may offer free healthcare – check before you buy a policy

  3. Increasing the excess

    But only if you’d be able to afford to pay that amount upfront

  4. Paying annually

    A lump sum generally works out cheaper than monthly premiums

  5. Living a healthy lifestyle

    Certain insurers will give you a cheaper deal if you stay fit

  6. Excluding anything you don’t need

    Are there any treatments you feel you could cut from your policy?

  7. Shopping around

    Compare your options to make sure you’re getting a great deal

Frequently asked questions

  • What are the potential benefits of being a private patient?

    The benefits of being a private patient will depend on your policy but could include:

    • Shorter waiting lists than the NHS
    • Private rooms, possibly with own en-suite
    • Facilities such as a television
    • Possible access to a wider range of treatments than what is available on the NHS
  • How much will a private medical insurance policy cost?

    This is dependent on the policy you choose and your individual circumstances, including the level of cover you require.

  • What factors will affect the cost of my health insurance?

    Insurers will consider many different factors when calculating your insurance premium such as:

    • Your age
    • Whether you smoke or vape
    • How much your voluntary excess is
    • Level of outpatient cover you need
    • How many nominated hospitals you choose
    • Your medical history

    You might be able to bring your premium down further by choosing a six week wait option on your policy. This means that if the NHS waiting list is less than six weeks for the treatment you need, you’ll have it done on the NHS instead.

  • What should I consider when choosing private health insurance?

    Have a think about:

    • What conditions you’d like to cover
    • What treatments you’d want on the policy
    • What level of cover you need
    • Your budget
    • How long you’re happy to wait before you make a claim (there may be a qualifying period)
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