Updated: November 20, 2019

Private Health Insurance Comparison

Looking for private healthcare insurance? In this article we'll explain what to consider and offer brief comparisons of major providers' policies

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Richard Angliss

Author: Richard Angliss - Finance Expert

Updated: November 20, 2019

If you’re looking to take out private medical insurance in the UK, either for yourself, you and your partner or for the whole family, you’ll want to be sure that the product you choose will make a tangible difference to the healthcare you’ll receive, above and beyond what is already available on the NHS.

But how can you be sure what’s available and which features are worth paying for?

The best way to do this is by working with an experienced broker, who can make you aware of all the possible benefits of having private health cover, while making tailored recommendations based on your budget requirements, existing conditions and what matters most to you when it comes to protecting your future health.

If you’d like to speak to an advisor who specialises in this field, don’t hesitate to make an enquiry, and we’ll be in touch for a follow-up call.

To give you an initial overview of what’s available in the UK private health insurance market, we’ve put together this handy guide to comparing private medical insurance policies, including a summary of a few of the best-known providers and what they offer.

We also look at how to go about narrowing down your search for the most suitable provider, including:

How to compare private medical insurance in the UK

Before you can be sure of which private medical insurance policy is best for you, we recommend that you read up on the different types of plan that are available, then sketch out a ‘wishlist’ of what you are hoping to get out of having health cover, as this will help you and your broker to compare medical insurance policies more effectively.

Some benefits are common to almost all policies, such as faster and more flexible access to treatment for various elective procedures, but others are more specialised. For example, you might want to have a policy that includes cover for mental health care, physiotherapy, dentistry or even some ‘complimentary’ therapies such as acupuncture.

Once you know what features you would like and which you’d be happy to do without, and have an approximate budget in mind, you can start your research in earnest.

You might also want to ask yourself a few questions that will be relevant to any policy you might choose, such as how soon you need the policy to start, and how much you’d be willing to pay as an excess.

What is private health insurance excess?

As with any type of insurance, the excess in private medical cover refers to an amount you agree to pay towards treatment in the event of making a claim on your policy. Generally, the higher the excess, the lower the monthly premium you are likely to pay.

This is an important aspect to consider before you apply because excesses can range from nothing at all to around £5,000. So if you are in good health and think you’re unlikely to need a lot of complicated treatment in the near future, you could take the risk of setting a high excess and paying less towards the policy each month.

Speak to an expert about how to get this balance right based on your individual circumstances.

Can I compare private health insurance quotes online?

You can always use a private health insurance comparison tool to help with your research, but bear in mind that in most cases this will mean handing over your contact details to one or more insurance companies that will get access to any personal information you provide.

This can result in a lot of calls and emails from companies touting for business, which can be a nuisance, and any that do contact you may not have access to all providers.

The specialists we work with will go direct to providers they know are best suited to cater for your needs, and have a whole-of-market overview, so you can be sure you won’t be missing out on any worthwhile deals.

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UK private medical insurance comparison summary

To provide a snapshot of what’s available across the board we’ve included some of the better-known providers such as BUPA private medical insurance, AXA Health insurance and other major players, as well as some more specialist providers that may be suitable for those with existing conditions or in later life.

Don’t forget, the market is constantly evolving with new products arriving all the time so, to get a more accurate picture of what’s available, we would always recommend that you speak to an expert who understands your needs and requirements ahead of committing to a final decision.

Bupa
CS Healthcare
SAGA
Vitality

BUPA private health cover offers two options: ‘Comprehensive Health Insurance’ and ‘Treatment and Care’:

  1. The Comprehensive policy is designed for patients who intend to use private healthcare for all their medical needs
  2. The Treatment and Care option kicks in only after diagnosis on the NHS, and only then if you are treated as an inpatient

According to BUPA’s site, as well as a wide range of physical illnesses its policies cover more mental health conditions than any other leading UK provider. Cancer treatment is also covered for as long as you hold the policy, with no time limits, provided you are treated in a BUPA hospital.

However, as with most insurers, it cannot cover you for any pre-existing conditions until a period of two years has passed with no symptoms relating to the condition in question, and this is extended to five years in the case of mental health.

Treatments relating to pregnancy and childbirth are also not usually covered by BUPA other than in some exceptional circumstances.

CS Healthcare is a specialist provider of private medical insurance at a lower-than-average cost, which until recently was only made available to the public sector bodies and the not-for-profit sector.

CS Healthcare now accepts customers from all professions, with a choice of two plans.

  1. The Essential plan covers all the ‘basics’ such as covering most aspects of inpatient treatment, including anaesthetics, surgery, accommodation and nursing costs, and anything else can be tailored to your plan as an optional extra, including fast access to specialist diagnosis, physiotherapy and complementary therapies, heart and cancer care.
  2. The Health Bridge plan is designed to make it easier for NHS patients to access specialist private treatment quickly and avoid waiting lists. However, this level of cover is capped at £15,000 per person, per year. Routine pregnancy is not covered. Pre-existing mental health conditions are not covered, and the maximum claim for future psychiatric treatment is £1,000.

SAGA’s medical insurance policies are for over 50s only, and there are four different plans to choose from.

  1. Its lowest level of cover is SAGA HealthPlan Support which covers most aspects of inpatient treatment as well as access to its advice line and GP service
  2. The next tier up is ‘Saver Plus’ which also includes mental health treatment, cancer treatment, access to a second opinion and other benefits.
  3. Its ‘Secure’ tier offers all the benefits of both Saver Plus and SAGA health plan support as well as patient transport
  4. Its highest tier, ‘Super’ also covers certain dental procedures

With the exception of the ‘Support’ plan, all its HealthPlan policies cover the cost of standard cancer treatments, however, they cannot continue to pay out beyond 18 months unless you take out an extended policy.

Formerly known as PruHealth, Vitality’s model ‘rewards’ customers for making healthy lifestyle choices.

Members are enrolled in a ‘bronze’ tier, and they can progress through silver, gold and platinum levels by taking part in a wellness programme that involves committing to healthy eating and exercise goals.

The cover includes a ‘core’ offering that pays out for treatments relating to a wide range of physical conditions including pregnancy complications, however routine pregnancy is not covered.

If you are diagnosed with cancer, another level of cover can be accessed to cover the costs of private treatment capped at an annual limit of £30,000. A more comprehensive cancer policy would be needed to fund anything beyond this level, and pre-existing conditions are excluded.

AXA PPP Healthcare

AXA’s private medical insurance plan called ‘Health Select’ offers a ‘core’ plan as standard, with a wide range of add-ons available. Its core plan provides fast track access to specialist treatment in any of its 250 hospitals, a choice of consultants, second opinion service and more.

Optional add-ons not included in the Health Select core plan include:

  • Mental health cover with no annual limit
  • Extended cover that allows a wider choice of hospitals and access to online consultations
  • A travel option that covers emergency medical costs incurred when abroad

Like most insurers it does not cover any treatment relating to pregnancy and childbirth, most cosmetic treatments or chronic conditions as well as any pre-existing condition.

Speak to an expert on Private Health Insurance

If you’d like some expert guidance on finding the best private medical insurance deal for you and your family, the specialist advisors we work with are ideally placed to help you find peace of mind with the perfect healthcare solution for your needs.

Give us a call today on 0808 189 0463 or make an enquiry and we’ll be in touch soon to arrange a free, no-obligations consultation.

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Richard Angliss

Richard Angliss

Finance Expert

About the author

Richard Angliss has made a career in financial services which stretches over 40 years.

His early career was spent learning about the various financial products and applying them to prudent advice, working for one of the largest life assurance and investment firms. After that he joined the financial services arm of a very well-known firm providing independent advice to their 8 million customers.

For the last 20 years he has been involved in building software solutions that help Advisers and clients work together to achieve good financial outcomes and helping to set up three independent advisory firms. He also has written many articles for financial services publications and provided commentary for newspaper journalists.

At an early stage in his career he realised the great satisfaction that comes with being able to help people achieve their goals and protect their families. “Regulation of financial services has hugely impacted on ensuring people get appropriate advice. The issue these days is access to that advice and just as importantly regular reviews to make sure that everything stays on track”.

With the growing development of online resources such as Online Money Advisor he sees a great future for people to access advice to make their pension and investment work harder for them.  Plus, of course, to ensure they have insurance products in place that will be required when unforeseen events happen.

He knows getting that balance right is crucial to prudent financial planning and the wellbeing of individuals and their families.

FCA Disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of the most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The information on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms that are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs.

Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.

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