What is Private Health Insurance?

Health insurance is an insurance policy that covers against all or some of the cost of private healthcare, avoiding lengthy NHS queues by giving you quicker access to leading consultants, medical diagnosis and treatment, private hospitals and drugs that may not otherwise be available to you.     

Also known as Private Medical Insurance, PMI, Medical Insurance or Private Health Care, Health Insurance gives you control over how, when, where and by whom you are treated, getting you back on the road to recovery as soon as possible.

What is private healthcare in the UK?

Private healthcare in the UK isn’t a requirement as we have the NHS however you can face long queues waiting for diagnosis or treatment, which is where going private can help. Designed to work alongside the NHS, private healthcare speeds everything up, removing the worry waiting for treatment can bring.

In addition, private healthcare in the UK is flexible and can be tailored to suit your needs, meaning you can still use the NHS services if you choose, but have the protection of private medical insurance when you need it most.

What does private medical insurance cover?

Private medical insurance covers some or all of the cost of private medical care, depending on the services you have chosen. This includes speedy access to top consultants, faster diagnosis, medical treatment, surgery and aftercare, access to private hospitals and drugs not readily available on the NHS. 

The private medical insurance cover you choose be it a basic, standard or comprehensive health insurance plan will be based on your requirements and budget. Most plans include what is known as ‘inpatient’ or ‘day patient’ treatment where you are admitted to a private hospital but you can also add ‘outpatient treatment’ too.  

Appointments can usually be arranged to suit you so as not to interfere with your home or work life anymore than it needs to and of course in addition to treatment, you also get to use the facilities of a private hospital including creature comforts such as your own ensuite room with TV, good food and unlimited visiting hours.

How much does good health insurance cost?

Good health insurance can cost quite a bit depending on how comprehensive the plan is however there are ways to reduce the amount you pay. Comparing health insurance quotes is a must to ensure you pay the best price but you can also make adjustments that will save you money.

For example you can choose to do one or more of the following:

  • Pay a higher excess per claim – the more you pay the lower your monthly premium will be.
  • Pay a proportion of your treatment – again the higher the percentage you agree to pay the more you will save.
  • Agree to be treated by a specific number of private hospitals
  • Agree to be treated by the NHS if treatment can take place within 6 weeks

How much is private health insurance per month?

The cost of private health insurance per month will depend on the level of medical cover you choose, your age, where you live, the state of your health, for example whether you smoke or not and the number of people you are looking to insure.

The cost will also vary depending on whether you are happy to make certain allowances such as choose a higher level of excess, or perhaps as previously mentioned to be treated by the NHS in certain situations.

Based on our reviews of the UKs leading private health insurance companies, a 50 year old living in the South East can expect to pay from around £60 per month but these costs vary so it is worth comparing plans with a number of companies yourself. 

Our advice

For more information on health insurance plans our advice is to always compare the market and speak to an adviser who will find the best deal to suit you

Our service through First Choice Health & Protection is free to use

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Updated 2nd April 2020 by Ashley Shepherd

Ashley is the founder and managing director at Over50choices. With over 30 years’ experience in financial services, he has held senior roles in building societies, banks and insurance companies.

Ashley Shepherd

What should I do now?

If you would like to find out more about the best health insurance plans on the market take a look at our comparison table for details of leading UK providers.

You can also take a look at our expert independent reviews on individual companies.

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