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A Complete Guide to Buying Health Insurance

 

In the UK, we’re fortunate to have access to free healthcare from the NHS. However, waiting lists for appointments can be long and you could be waiting even longer to get a diagnosis. Private healthcare insurance pays all, or some, of your medical costs if you’re treated privately. It’s not a necessity, but if you find yourself in a position where you don’t want to use the NHS, you might struggle to pay the bills for private treatment without it.

Benefits of private healthcare

  • Shorter waiting times for appointments and treatment
  • Access to private hospitals with better amenities
  • Quicker access to consultants, treatments and tests
  • Choice of your preferred hospital
  • Choice of your preferred doctor or surgeon
  • The standard of care is sometimes better

Compare health insurance providers

Many people will compare health insurance providers by focusing on the cheapest price. However, cheap health insurance isn’t necessarily the best health insurance and you could be left with a nasty shock when you go to make a claim. Compare by Review compares health insurance companies exclusively on customer experience and product quality to ensure you can purchase a high-quality insurance product from a company that cares.

We’re on a mission to change the way you traditionally buy insurance. We don’t believe that scouring the market for a cheap product is the best way to compare health insurance but it’s what we’re ingrained to do. We encourage you to read reviews from real customers before purchasing private medical insurance so you can get an idea of the quality of service that different insurers deliver. Take a look at our comparison table at the top of this page to compare medical insurance providers and see which company offers the best private health insurance.

What does private healthcare cover?

Generally, health insurance covers treatment for acute conditions, hospitals, scans and surgical procedures. There are three main types of health insurance and the exact level of cover depends on the policy you take out:

  • Basic health insurance policies usually cover the cost of any inpatient treatment you require and also costs for your hospital stay.
  • Medium policies include inpatient care and outpatient care such as seeing specialists and consultants and the cost of follow up treatment and tests.
  • Comprehensive health insurance policies are typically the most expensive as they offer the most amount of cover. They cover all of the above as well as covering you for physiotherapy and mental health treatment.

What’s not covered?

Most health insurance policies don’t cover you for pre-existing conditions, chronic conditions or emergency treatment. However, some insurers will insure you for pre-existing conditions as long as you’ve had no symptoms in the last five years. If you suffer from any conditions that you think might be excluded, you should read the policy thoroughly so you have a clearer understanding of what you are and aren’t covered for.

How much does private health insurance cost?

The cost of private health insurance will vary depending on your personal circumstances and the provider you choose to go with, but you can expect your premiums to be determined by:

The policy you choose

Your premium will be higher if you choose a more comprehensive policy and tailor it to suit your personal needs by adding on extras that aren’t included as standard. However, you can normally keep the premium lower by choosing to pay a higher excess if you need to make a claim or by taking out a joint life insurance policy with a partner.

Where you live

The cost of private health insurance can also be affected by the area you live in. Private health insurance is typically more expensive for people living in London, the south-east and the south-west, whereas people living in Northern Ireland pay cheaper premiums.

Your age

Generally the older you are, the more you can expect to pay for private health insurance. This is because older people are at increased risk of needing medical treatment compared to younger people.

Your lifestyle choices

If you’re a smoker or regular drinker of alcohol, you’re likely to see an increase in premiums. This also includes the use of nicotine substitute products like e-cigarettes.

What types of policies can I get?

You can get policies that cover individuals, couples or families. As you might expect, an individual policy provides medical insurance just for yourself. You pay a premium on a monthly basis and have access to high quality care should you need it. Joint policies cover you and your partner. Family policies provide private health insurance for the entire family. If you have an individual policy, some insurers allow you to add children at no extra cost. Dependants are generally accepted if they’re under the age of 18 but it’s worth checking the age with your insurance provider.

Things to consider

What types of treatment do you want to be covered in the policy?

You should find a policy that’s tailored to your needs. You can decide what level of cover you want to take out and you may want to opt for cover that includes mental health treatments, physiotherapy, outpatient appointments and complementary therapies.

What private hospital you’d prefer to be treated at

Most health insurance policies have a tiered pricing level that is dependent on where the treatment centre is located. For example, hospitals in central London are often higher on the tier and tend to be more expensive. If you travel further for treatment, it could reduce the cost of your policy.

A six week waiting option

You can choose to receive NHS care rather than private care if the NHS can see within six weeks of a referral. Your premium could be cheaper if you choose this option.

Your age

Typically, health insurance is more expensive the older you are so don’t be surprised if your premium rises after each birthday.

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