A Guide To Private Health Insurance

Everyone in the UK has the right to free universal healthcare from the NHS. Private Health Insurance or Private Medical Insurance (PMI) is available as a compliment to NHS care for a price. It is estimated that around 10% of the UK population enjoy private health insurance1. 75% of these people access the benefits via their employer while the remaining 25% are individuals who subscribe to private healthcare via an annual fee.

People who choose to buy private health insurance can do so individually, for themselves and their spouse, or for their entire family. Private health insurance policies vary considerably depending on the costs and will cover a range of in, day and outpatient treatments. Such insurance policies are designed to work with your free NHS access rather than replace it entirely2. For example, private insurance policies exclude treatment by GP's and Accident & Emergency Departments.

In a nutshell, private medical insurance allows individuals to skip NHS queues for minor ailments and conditions that are not considered life-threatening. Some policies will extend to cover treatments for potentially life-threatening illnesses like cancer, childbirth and dental treatment. What is not covered includes pre-existing conditions, organ transplants, cosmetic surgery and chronic illnesses like diabetes and HIV3.


Do You Need It?

Private Medical Insurance is a bit of a luxury and a personal choice. Many people are provided insurance via their employers which means they have no need for a personal policy. It is, however, something that many people feel more comfortable having. It allows individuals to get faster treatment than they would in the NHS and often in nicer hospitals and wards. With the growing crisis in the NHS, more people are likely to consider private medical insurance in the future4.

Most of the benefits of private medical insurance are based on choice and control. PMI gives policyholders a selection of different doctors, surgeons and hospitals, something you cannot do on the NHS. It allows them to choose a time and place that best suits their life. It is very likely they will be seen by a doctor quicker than on the NHS and will receive their treatment faster. If they are unhappy with the advice of a doctor they can request a second opinion or additional scans and tests.

The main downside, as with any insurance policy, is the cost and the fact your money could be wasted if you are healthy and rarely need medical treatment.


How Much Does It Cost?

As with all insurance policies, there is no set price for private health insurance. The premiums are calculated using a range of factors including your age, health, location, job and the cover options you want.

In the table below we provide you with a range of real prices based on age.


Daily amount

Monthly amount

18 yr old

£0.86 per day

£26.15 per month

26 yr old

£1.27 per day

£38.66 per month

31 yr old

£1.45 per day

£44.00 per month

41 yr old

£1.79 per day

£54.56 per month

51 yr old

£2.36 per day

£71.78 per month

61 yr old

£3.65 per day

£110.89 per month

71 yr old

£5.66 per day

£172.34 per month

Prices based on Health For You, London SE6 postcode, Moratorium, Standard Outpatient with Therapies option, £100 excess, no to all health questions. Prices correct March 2018.


Where To Find Cheap Private Health Insurance?

There is a 3 step process required to ensure you find the best possible price for your health insurance. It takes a little bit of time and effort but the savings are worth it.

Firstly comparison sites can give you a range of quotes based on the information you provide on their quotation form. This process usually takes 10-15 minutes and will give you a good idea of the option available in the market. It should be noted that some insurers (for example Saga) choose not to work with comparison engines and it is, therefore, necessary to get a separate quote from those brands.

A complete picture can be provided by specialist brokers who will be able to give you a wide range of quotes from almost all brands in the market. Their advisers are qualified and authorised to provide you with specialist advice to help you find the right policy at the best possible price.


Who Are The Main Providers In The UK?

The 4 largest providers of Private Health Insurance in the UK are Bupa, Axa PPP Healthcare, Aviva and Prudential (PruHealth). Other brands include Simply Health, General Medical, Saga (specialising in health insurance for older people) and WPA5. Bupa is still the largest overall provider with Axa PPP growing fast due to a number of mergers and acquisitions in recent years.

1 Internations.org Healthcare In The UK
2 UK.VirginMoney.Com Is Private Health Insurance Worth It?
3 MoneyAdviceService.org.uk Do You Need Private Medical Insurance
4 VintageHealth.co.uk Brexit the NHS and Private Healthcare
NetDoctor.co.uk Who Are The Biggest Private Medical Insurance Companies?