How much is private health insurance going to cost me?

How much is private health insurance going to cost me? main image

How much private health insurance will cost you is just one of many questions you probably have about private healthcare. If you are thinking of choosing this type of insurance to protect your family, you will also need to know how it works and what it covers too.

The following information will help you understand what private health insurance can offer you and your family including the different types of cover available, comparisons of leading health insurance providers, whether cheap health insurance really exists and alternatives you may want to consider.

How much does health insurance cost UK wide?

Health insurance cost in the UK varies depending on age, state of health and level of healthcare required. For example the average cost of medical insurance for a 50 year old can range from £26 a month to more than £100, so it’s beneficial to compare quotes and seek advice.

Our comparison table below showing typical plans from some of the UK’s leading health insurance companies is a great place to start.

Health Insurance Compare

Company Monthly Premium Excess Treatment Diagnosis Cancer




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General Medical






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£49.97 £100 Yes No Yes
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The Exeter


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Based on male non smoker aged 40 yrs of age - no health questions answered. This is for comparison purposes only & you should obtain a personal health quotation as policies do vary. Correct as at 27/11/2017

The importance of good healthcare

Being healthy and maintaining that good health is important in order to function, enjoy life and go about our daily business. Being ill or in pain may not only limit you physically, but it can affect you mentally too.  And if your health is so bad that you cannot work, typically you may have financial worries thrown in on top.

That is why the sooner any illnesses are identified and treated, the greater the chance of recovery to full health.

Why do I need private health insurance – what about the NHS?

Upon its foundation in 1948, the National Health Service (NHS) was held up as a model of publicly funded health care, provided free to everyone at the point of delivery.

The country still takes justifiable pride in the NHS, but a steady stream of press reports illustrates just some of the pressures it is now under and the cracks that have appeared in the system. Indeed, the British Red Cross recently described NHS emergency services at “breaking point” and responsible for a “humanitarian crisis”, according to reports in the Express newspaper and other parts of the press on the 7th of January 2017.

Although such claims were dismissed as alarmist by the NHS itself, it is evident that the service struggles to keep patient waiting times within bounds – of the current 18-week waiting time for non-urgent treatment.

Despite NHS targets, surgery and other procedures are frequently cancelled, and it may be difficult arranging an appointment with the consultant you need, when you need it, and at a location convenient to you.

Private health insurance complements what is available under the NHS system by getting you seen and treated as soon as possible.

How does private health insurance work?

The primary purpose of private medical insurance is to provide you:

  • faster access to treatment than that you are likely to receive on the NHS;
  • choices about when and where you receive any treatment or surgery; and
  • a choice of consultant – including one whom you wish to consult for a second opinion.

Private medical insurance might be arranged by your employer as part of your remuneration package and any private treatment is paid for directly by your employer. Or you may arrange the cover yourself – under so-called “self-pay” arrangements.

In either case, the first step in claiming private medical insurance benefits is typically a visit to your NHS GP. Just as in any other visit to your GP, that consultation is provided free of charge by the NHS.

The next step is for your GP to recommend a specialist consultant and to write a letter of referral on your behalf as a private patient - an action which is also paid for by the NHS.

This is the stage at which you need to check with your medical insurer that such a referral is covered by your particular policy and ask for authorisation from the insurer for the specialist consultation to go ahead.

The consultant then does two things:

  • lets your GP know the results of your consultation; and
  • issues an invoice – which is paid directly by your medical insurer or which you need to pay and reclaim, less any excess which applies to your cover.

If you need surgery or treatment in hospital, your admission is scheduled, a follow-up consultation is arranged and your insurance company again covers the invoices issued – minus the amount of any excess you have to pay.

What does private medical insurance cover?

In the words of the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, private healthcare is available for any medical condition – provided you are able to pay for it.

That said, there are a number of common elements typically available under most policies and these include:

  • inpatient care in hospital – for the day or overnight – with examinations, tests, procedures and surgery paid for by your insurance;
  • outpatient consultations and treatment – if you are looking for cheap health insurance, the range of outpatient treatments might be limited and there may be a limit on the value of treatment received;
  • the cost of hospital accommodation and the nursing care that goes with it;
  • drugs and medicines – one of the additional benefits of private medical insurance is access to certain approved drugs and medicines that are not available on the NHS.

Are there any exclusions?

Like most forms of general insurance, healthcare cover typically specifies certain exclusions to cover and these may vary widely, depending on the policy you choose.

Typically, they might include exclusion of:

  • treatment for long-term or chronic illnesses – such as asthma or kidney dialysis;
  • normal, straight forward pregnancies;
  • drug or alcohol abuse; and
  • non-essential or cosmetic procedures.

What are the different types of health insurance?

There are two main types of health insurance:

Fully underwritten insurance
  • this typically offers wider coverage, but is often more expensive and requires a full and detailed declaration of your medical history. Based on your information, the insurer will decide what will and won’t be included within the policy cover.  Therefore it is highly unlikely any pre-existing conditions you have had will be covered;
Moratorium health insurance
  • this generally tends to be a cheaper alternative and requires a relatively limited health declaration, although pre-existing medical conditions (suffered in the last 5 years) are likely to be subject to a period of exclusion (usually 2 years). This period is called a moratorium.  Once the set period is over, you may typically be covered for the condition, as long as any examination shows it hasn’t arisen during the moratorium.

What are the alternatives to health insurance (apart from the NHS)?

In addition to the main types of full health insurance, there are specialist forms of cover which provide private treatment only if you have to wait longer than a pre-agreed time for treatment on the NHS.

There are also cash plans (often run by friendly societies), to which you contribute a regular monthly subscription and claim back the cost of a range of – quite basic – treatments.

Critical illness insurance also provides a lump sum cash benefit – which you might use to fund your future health care – if you are diagnosed with a critical illness during the term of the insurance cover.

Can I buy cheap private health insurance?

Since the purchase of insurance is typically about the cover you need – a decidedly personal and individual choice – at a competitive price, cheap private health insurance is probably something of a misnomer.

And what you think may be cheap health insurance may not be so for a friend or neighbour who has a different profile to you and possibly different requirements. It is a very personal choice.

What you are more likely to be looking for is value for money when making your health insurance comparison - and this is something in which we specialise here at Over50Choices.

We are able to provide you a wide range of private health insurance quotes, reflecting any number of the variables you choose - simply indicate your age, whether you are a smoker or non-smoker, your address (some insurers may offer different rates according to your postcode) and whether you want to include anyone else within your plan  – and we’ll provide a no-obligation online health insurance quote in a minute or so.

Once the results are displayed, you can compare health insurance policies available and choose the level of cover that matches your budget.

We offer a range of plans including comprehensive, midrange and budget health insurance options, as well as policies where you can include your family.

To get an idea of how much private health insurance is going to cost, the following table is showing a quote for a 50 year old male non-smoker. The results are based on comprehensive cover on a moratorium underwriting basis, with a £100 excess and with access to the standard hospital list. Therapies have been added (physiotherapy, osteopathy, etc).

How do I choose the cover that most suits me?

There are a number of considerations when selecting the best health insurance plan that most suits your needs, and budget, but when comparing private medical insurance, you’ll need to

  • consider the level of cover you require – from basic (diagnostics only) to comprehensive;
  • select your desired amount of excess;
  • pick from a range of optional extras – such as therapies including physiotherapy or osteopathic treatments;
  • decide on the range and location of hospitals you might use;
  • and, finally, choose whether to elect for a full underwriting or moratorium health insurance policy.

Alternatively, if you are unsure as to what policy is the most appropriate one for you or you need clarification on any thing, you can have a chat with one of our friendly team on 0845 145 0070.


Although cheap private medical insurance is likely to be determined by the type of cover you need, rather than the price of the premiums alone, our comparison service allows you to mix and match the level and just those elements of cover you need.

In this way, you might enjoy the best of both worlds – the health insurance that matches your individual needs and circumstances, at a competitive price.

Private medical health insurance might appear to be a complicated and bewildering subject at times, leaving a whole range of questions to be answered.

Hopefully, many of these have been addressed in this short guide to making an informed comparison of the healthcare options available. For further help and advice, check out our range of private health guides here

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