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What is health insurance?

Health insurance, or private health insurance, is medical coverage that gives access to high-quality healthcare with no delay. You will pay a monthly or yearly subscription that covers all or some of the medical costs. The payment is usually called your premium.

Private health insurance is offered as a packaged deal that is designed to meet the needs of different customers. There are plans varying based on the types of treatment covered, what levels of insurance cover apply, locations of treatment, and contributions you’re required to pay towards a claim.

Health insurance does not take away from free coverage provided by the NHS. In fact, it is designed to offer treatment alongside the NHS service.

How is private medical insurance different from the NHS?

Most UK residents are entitled to free healthcare from the NHS, while private practices are associated with different insurance quotes based on tiered plans. Other major differences are waiting times (which are longer with the NHS) and the availability of treatments. Some treatments are only covered by private insurance - emerging drugs, alternative therapies, some specialist surgeries and rehabilitation sessions, etc.

How does health insurance Work?

If you don’t have healthcare insurance and want to receive treatment, you usually go through the following process:

  • Compare and choose a provider, an insurance plan, and all other accompanying details.
  • Pay your premium to activate the coverage.
  • Confirm with your policy provider about the details of the treatment.
  • Make your first claim after your GP refers you to a specialist.
  • Receive your treatment that is already paid directly by your insurer.

In some cases, you can receive treatment and then make your claim. However, we still recommend contacting your provider first. You need to be sure the procedure is covered by the policy; otherwise, you will have to pay out of pocket.

What is covered by health insurance?

The more basic medical care policies pick up the costs of most in-patient treatments, such as tests and surgery, and higher-tier policies extend to out-patient treatments, such as specialists and consultants – and might pay you a small fixed amount for each night you spend in an NHS hospital. If you’re not sure which one is worth checking, we compare policies from all over the health insurance market here at Healthplan.

Plan Level
Basic Inpatient care
Hospitalization expenses
Medium Inpatient care
Hospitalization expenses
Outpatient Therapies
Comprehensive Inpatient and Outpatient Care
Extra Treatments including physiotherapy, mental health counselling
Possibility for supplementary treatments

Here is what most health insurance policies include:

  • Medical treatment for acute physical conditions (common cold, flu, infections, pneumonia, asthma attack, broken bones, burns)
  • Cancer treatment
  • Psychiatric treatment
  • Dental treatment
  • Optical appointments
  • Private consultations
  • Hospital stays
  • Physiotherapy
  • Diagnostic services like scans, tests, and X-rays
  • Pharmacy
  • Prostheses
  • Home nursing

Here is what the coverage doesn’t usually include:

  • Long-term or chronic conditions (diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis)
  • Pre-existing medical conditions (allergies, sleep apnea, epilepsy, lupus)
  • Organ transplants
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Certain injuries (e.g., from dangerous sports, war-like hostilities)

How much are health insurance costs?

See private health insurance costs at some of the leading providers.

Insurer Monthly costs
Aviva £42
Axa £44
Bupa £56
The Exeter £42
Vitality Health £39
WPA £52

To give you a better understanding of health insurance costs, we want to point out factors that affect them:

  • Plan: There are tiers with different coverage and additional services - this makes the biggest difference in the private health insurance quotes. If you have other people subscribed to your insurance policy, the circumstances of each person can make it cheaper or more expensive.
  • Location: Some areas of the country have a higher price tag on treatments and medications. For instance, the premium rates may differ by postcode due to lack/abundance of healthy food options, climate, and health issues.
  • Age: The same coverage is usually available to a young person for a smaller premium. This is because the risks and chances of hospitalization due to illnesses, injuries, and certain conditions rise with age.
  • Medical history: Your past medical records are crucial. If you have had no serious illness, your premium will be less than for those with chronic conditions or known health risks.
  • Family history: If there is a history of illness in the family, it may be excluded from the coverage, or the payment will be amped up. That said, some providers have underwriting rules, and some may ignore family history altogether.
  • Lifestyle: Private health insurers pay attention to smoking, drinking, physical activity, driving records, and professions/hobbies. If you don’t have the best habits, you could reduce premiums by switching and sticking to a healthier lifestyle.

Types of private health insurance

Why switch to private medical insurance?

  • Shorter waiting times: Bypassing long NHS waiting lists, you will be referred to and seen by a professional in a timely manner. Or you can even request a date yourself.
  • Specialist drugs and procedures: Some treatments are too expensive or novel for the NHS but not for private healthcare.
  • Private hospitals: In a private room, you can recover without any intrusion and have family visits without disturbing or being disturbed by other patients.
  • Lots of options: You get to choose health specialists, clinics, and care homes that you can trust. The range of experts and medical facilities is wider than you’d ever need.
  • Convenience: You will have a reliable plan when your health needs it, whether it is a minor illness or a sudden serious condition.
  • Rewards: Exclusive offers and discounts with some of the UK’s leading brands will be additional perks to prove you’ve made the right choice.

Do i need private medical insurance?

One out of ten people has private health insurance in the UK. And if you think it is an unnecessary luxury, there are many valid reasons for going private when you get health insurance instead of the NHS. Some of them are even listed on the NHS Statistics (2021) page:

  • The number of people on England’s NHS waiting list tops 5 million for the first time.
  • The number of people waiting more than 52 weeks to start hospital treatment rose to 304,044.
  • In the last 10 years, the total number of NHS hospital beds decreased by 11%.

But with private healthcare, you have the peace of mind that you’ll be covered against unforeseen health or medical problems. You won’t be restricted by public services you have no control over; instead, you’ll gain unparalleled security and flexibility over your health.

What should i consider when choosing private health insurance?

To choose the most suitable private health insurance company and policy for you, here are a few factors to pay attention to:

  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Prescription drug coverage
  • In-network providers
  • Health savings account contributions
  • Claim process and settlement
  • Additional perks

How can i cut the cost of health insurance?

There are a few nifty ways to reduce the amount you spend without sacrificing the benefits that are crucial for you:

  • Compare health insurance quotes at Healthplan and choose your providers wisely.
  • Don’t choose the first insurer that is advertised to you online.
  • Find a high deductible health plan and combine it with a savings option.
  • Limit your hospital choices to those you might actually need.
  • See if the core benefits are enough if you don’t need additional services for an extra cost.
  • Pay annually.
  • Maintain and/or improve lifestyle-related factors and stay active.

How to get private health insurance

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And when you want it to start, your budget and your postcode

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Now you can get the cover you need

Compare your options and choose the health insurance that's right for you

Apply for private health insurance

FAQ

There are different categories within private health insurance to compare, but it depends on what parameter is taken into consideration. There are Basic, Medium, and Comprehensive based on the level of medical cover and cost. There are individual, family, joint, and children health insurance based on who is covered. Dental and life insurance are also considered separate types of health insurance.

The answer might be different depending on your circumstances and the health insurance policy you want. While the costs are the biggest drawback, there are many benefits that make it a worthwhile investment for some people. You get quicker access to medical consultations, scans, and treatment, the ability to choose specialists and hospitals, a wider range of medications and treatments, among other things.

Health insurance premiums are considered benefit-in-kind (BIK) that are deductible in some cases. If you’re an employee and your expenses exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), not only your health insurance premium becomes deductible but also other healthcare costs. If you’re self-employed, you may be eligible for a deduction even without exceeding the 7.5% threshold.

You can add your children (biological, stepchild, adopted, or foster child) as dependents to your insurance if they are under the age of 26 and have lived with you for at least six months. Also, you can usually add your spouse to the plan. As for other types of dependents, you can sometimes add relatives with a gross annual income of less than $3,000, and you are responsible for their financial support.

It depends on the insurer. Some simply adjust the cost of the policy for in-patient treatments and other items covered in the insurance. Some providers set a maximum limit at 65 or 75, which is why it’s very important to do your research.

Most health insurance plans are offered as one-year contracts with a specified date of renewal. If you think you might need different coverage next year, you can switch up coverage before the expiry of the policy. Don’t automatically renew your policy before looking over every detail.

Questions? Speak to a real person

Comparing private health insurance is what we do, so you will get through to someone who can help. Call us from Monday to Friday (8am - 7pm) and Saturday (9am - 6pm).