Updated: December 14, 2022
Private Medical Insurance Costs
How much will private medical insurance set you back? We'll explore typical policy costs, and how an expert broker can ensure you don't overpay for yours
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Author: Richard Angliss - Finance Expert
Updated: November 20, 2019
The average private health insurance cost in the UK is around £1,435 a year at the time of writing. But without the right advice you could end up paying much more.
There are a number of factors that affect private health care insurance costs. If you want the best deal, you can arrange a free, no-obligation chat with one of the advisors we work with who are experts in finding affordable private medical insurance.
The following topics are covered below...
Private medical insurance costs
As we mentioned above, the average cost of private health insurance in the UK is just under £1,500 a year, but with the right advice, you could pay much less.
Your personal circumstances can have a significant effect on the cost of your premiums. Things such as whether you want cover for just yourself or the whole family, your age and even where you live can all make a difference to the price you are quoted for cover.
You can get an idea of the cost of private health insurance by using online comparison websites, but bear in mind that everyone has different circumstances and needs when it comes to what they need and what they can afford.
The good news is that the advisors we work with are whole-of-market and have strong relationships with all providers, including those that do not appear on cost comparison sites, so they can find the best deal, at the right price, tailored to your specific needs.
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Factors affecting private health insurance costs in UK
- There are quite a few circumstances that can affect the cost of private medical insurance. These include:
- Hold old you are, especially if you are over 50
- If you are overweight, you may find cover more expensive.
- If you are a smoker will be taken into account by providers. This includes vaping.
- Whether you have ever suffered a stroke may affect your cover
- If you have ever had, or are currently being treated for, cancer
- Being a heart attack survivor can limit your health insurance options
- Being a diabetic doesn’t preclude you from cover, but it may be a factor
- What level of cover and limits you want
Your circumstances can include lifestyle choices such as alcohol consumption and especially whether or not you smoke.
Even if you’ve quit smoking and have switched to a vapouriser, your premiums may still be higher than if you didn’t smoke at all. The reason for this is that most health insurance providers will take your nicotine consumption into account, rather than whether you are smoking traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes.
Saying that you are an ex-smoker if you only quit last week won’t cut it with most private healthcare providers. The majority would expect you to have not smoked for at least 12 months to be considered a non-smoker. This also applies to consuming alcohol.
It is vitally important that you disclose any existing medical conditions or lifestyle choices when you take out the cover, otherwise the policy may be declined when you come to make a claim.
What influences increases on private health insurance premiums?
Your premium will increase on an annual basis due to general costs of medical care, which is rising all the time.
As we covered above, premiums also increase with age. Statistically, older people are likely to need more medical care that someone who is young.
There’s no escaping the fact that, as we age, we all become more prone to getting sick or being diagnosed with a disease.
Many health insurance providers work within age bands and have premiums which fall into a 10-year segment. For example, costs for people aged 30-39 will be lower than costs for people aged between 50-59.
Another inescapable fact is inflation. As treatments and medicines advance, so the associated costs rise. Add to that the number of people falling ill and needing to make a claim and it all has an impact on the premium a company needs to charge to provide the level of cover they offer.
The effect hospitals have on costs
Believe it or not, which hospital you want to go to will affect private health insurance prices in the UK.
The costs incurred at different hospitals can vary enormously depending on any specialist equipment they may have, facilities and the type of accommodation they offer i.e. ward or private room.
Providers negotiate the rates they have to pay the hospital for their clients, which can have a direct effect on the average cost of private health insurance in the UK.
Due to the varying costs of different hospitals, many health insurance providers put hospitals into different groups. Providers can classify these groups in many ways – for example, standard, classic, premium or bronze, silver, gold etc.
But, in the end, it all amounts to much the same thing as far as the customer is concerned. It’s the level of premiums they are prepared to pay or can afford.
So hospitals are grouped as the cheapest, mid-range and most expensive. You can choose the level of a hospital you wish to be treated at, but the better the hospital, the more you’ll pay.
How changing your excess can affect costs
Like any other type of insurance, take car insurance for example, the amount of excess you agree to pay can have a direct effect on the level of premiums you’ll need to pay.
An excess is the providers way of keeping the average private health insurance cost in the UK under control. The main concern that providers have is that, without an excess customers, would be more inclined to make regular, and sometimes minor, claims if there was no cost involved.
An excess is usually charged on a per year basis. For example, you might pay £250 for the first claim, then nothing more. Alternatively, you may have an excess per claim, which could work out to be very expensive if you make multiple claims.
Can increasing excess reduce the cost?
Yes. Choosing a higher excess is an excellent way of significantly reducing the premiums you have to pay.
The downside is that you will be liable to pay a higher amount should you make a claim. Add to that the fact that you will be liable for medical costs that come in under the excess amount.
If you’d like the right advice on what amount of excess might be appropriate for your circumstances, make an enquiry for a free, no obligation chat. We’ll match you with one of the independent experts we work with.
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Will my age have a bearing?
Yes. Providers will increase your premiums in line with your age, and these tend to increase significantly for those over 50 years of age, primarily because the risk of making a claim at 50 and over is much higher. However, there are products that can help you reduce the impact of this. For instance, there are packages that reward you for making healthy lifestyle choices.
Do I have to have private medical insurance?
No. It’s not a legal requirement like motor insurance, but you could be taking quite a risk financially, even if you’re in good health.
The unexpected could put you into serious debt and put your home and even your family at risk.
If you choose to pay for your own private care treatments in the UK, here are the approximate costs of a few pretty common and standard procedures (at the time of writing), although they may vary from hospital to hospital –
Knee Replacement £11,500
Hip Replacement £10,800
Cataract Surgery £2,450
Varicose Vein Surgery £2,600
Cardiac Pacemaker Insertion £5,000
Hernia Repair £2,700
Skin Lesion Removal £1,100
Coronary Angiogram £2,100
As you can see, the bills can soon mount up and, as the average private health insurance cost per year can be less than a single treatment, the benefits are clear.
Talk to one of the expert advisors we work with, they will help you find the best deal to suit your needs and budget.
What are private medical insurance costs for alternative therapies?
Each provider has a different opinion on what constitutes ‘alternative therapies’. So, if the provider actually offers cover for these therapies, this can show up quite a variance in costs.
A providers definition of alternative therapies can include physio, osteopaths, chiropractors and acupuncture.
If you feel you may benefit from special treatments; then make an enquiry for a free, no-obligation chat and we’ll match you with one of the expert advisors we work with. They have access to the whole market and know which providers offer cover for the type of treatment you may want included in your policy.
Does dental cover increase the cost?
It all depends on the level of cover you’re looking for. Including dental cover can add between £5 and £11 per month to the average cost of private health insurance per month.
As with many private health insurance extras, there is usually a waiting period before you can make any claims, which is usually three to six months and won’t usually cover pre-existing conditions.
How much does it cost with outpatient cover?
You’ll find that most health insurance providers have at least a basic or core level of cover. This means that if you are insured, you’re covered the moment you are admitted to hospital.
Obviously this would cover the more serious or life-threatening incidents. But many of these basic levels of cover do not include any cover for outpatient treatment, such as being treated by a hospital doctor without being admitted or even an overnight stay in hospital.
- Outpatient services may include
- CT, MRI or CAT scans
- Specialist consultants
- Some diagnostic procedures like blood tests and x-rays
The cost of different outpatient cover differs from provider to provider, so again, you should arrange a chat with one of the expert advisors we work with to make sure you get the right advice.
What is the cost of private health insurance with cancer cover?
Unfortunately, cancer is now a common illness, and is usually covered as standard with most private health insurance policies.
But there can often be limitations on specific treatments or drugs, and there may be a time limit on how long treatment will be covered. So it’s well worth your time to find out what is, and is not covered by your premiums.
As usual, different providers offer different levels of cover, so getting the right advice is essential, especially if you are older or genetically at risk.
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How much is private health insurance per month?
This is very much a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question. As everyone is different and has different circumstances and needs, the amount you pay can vary enormously.
As mentioned above, your age, health, whether or not you smoke and even where you live can affect the level of premiums you’ll be expected to pay.
Are there private health insurance cost calculators available?
Yes, but again, because of the number of variables, they can only give you a rough idea on how much your private health insurance costs per year.
These calculators, like price comparison websites, rarely take into account all the factors that apply to you and your family, so for a more accurate estimate of what health insurance would really cost you, talk to one of the advisors we work with.
They are whole-of-market, which is to say they have a working relationship with all private health care providers, even those that are not on price comparison websites, so they will be able to find you the best deal, with the right cover, at the best price.
Is cheap private health insurance available?
Yes, low-cost private health insurance plans are available, but be aware that like many things, you get what you pay for.
If you are young and in good health, avoid high-risk activities and don’t smoke or drink, then you could get private health insurance at a much lower cost than someone who is older and leads a high-risk lifestyle.
Minimal price policies are available, but you need to consider if the cheapest private health insurance will provide enough cover should the worst happen.
What incentives are there to get private health insurance?
Some insurance providers in the UK offer incentives to sign up for their private health insurance.
Most health care insurance providers compete on the level of cover they offer for the most competitive price. However, depending on what you’re after and when you look, you may find additional incentives being offered.
For example, you may find providers offering reductions on premiums in the first year, while others offer perks like cheaper gym memberships and money off health tracker devices, such as Apple watches as an incentive to choose their health insurance over a competitor.
Are private health insurance premiums tax deductible?
If you are self-employed, a sole trader or run a limited company, HMRC allows you to make certain deductions that are incurred from the day to day running of your business.
So because private health cover has an element of personal benefit, as a rule you cannot use it as a tax deduction. There may be exceptions to this, but you would need the right advice from your accountant or tax expert.
Speak to an expert for the best deals on private health insurance
You may be tempted by the many cost comparison websites promising you the best deal – you may well end up with the cheapest… but will you really be getting the best deal?
Everyone is different with different needs and circumstances, and a price comparison website simply cannot take into account all of the variables.
The advisors we work with are experts when it comes to getting the best deal, because they are whole-of-market, which means they have access to all providers, not just a select few, many of them not on price comparison websites.
They will take the time to talk to you and guide you through the decision-making process, taking into account your own unique circumstances and then offer you the right advice.
Then they will scour the market for a deal that best suits you and find a private health insurance provider who will offer the best cover, for the best price.
You can call us for a chat now on 0808 189 0463 or make an online enquiry.
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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.