Saga health insurance review: Is it the best health insurance for over 50s?

10 min Read Published: 22 Apr 2024

Saga health insurance logoSaga was founded in 1951, marketing affordable off-peak holidays exclusively to retired people. It expanded to offer motor and home insurance in the 1980s and added pet and health insurance to its list of products in the 1990s. In this article we take a look at Saga health insurance explaining how the product works, how much it costs and who it might be good for. We also provide a handy list of pros and cons as well as the best and cheapest way to buy Saga health insurance, including how to get £100 cashback*. For a limited time, you will also get 3 months' free health insurance cover with Saga if your policy starts by the 15th of May 2024.

What is Saga health insurance?

Saga works slightly differently from other leading health insurance providers such as Aviva, Axa Health and Bupa, as it provides private medical insurance designed specifically for the over-50s market. Saga health insurance offers a choice of four plans and each can be tailored to provide cover at a different stage. These stages include the diagnosis of an illness, treatment and subsequent ongoing recovery. Saga health insurance is underwritten by Bupa Insurance Limited and its HealthPlan Super policy is 5-star rated by independent analyst Defaqto.

If this is the first time you have considered buying health insurance you may wish to read our article 'Should you get health insurance?'. The article provides a simple guide to health insurance, explaining how the cover works and who should consider getting it.

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Saga health insurance – Key features

Key benefits of Saga's health insurance plans include:

  • 'Saga GP service' allows access to a GP appointment at any time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • Access to physiotherapy without a GP referral
  • Cancer care cover provides access to a dedicated team that specialises in providing cancer care and support
  • Up to £3,000 'NHS cash benefit' – payable if you require overnight treatment via the NHS

How does Saga health insurance work?

Saga Health Insurance offers a number of health insurance plans to the over-50s market. That being said, while you have to be 50 or over to apply for a Saga health plan, your spouse and children can be added to the policy for an additional cost. (Includes children aged up to 21, or 25 if in full-time education).

Saga offers four different health plans including Saga Healthplan Support, Saga HealthPlan Saver Plus, Saga HealthPlan Secure and Saga HealthPlan Super. Saga HealthPlan Support is its most basic health insurance product and is therefore likely to be the cheapest for most people, while Saga HealthPlan Super is the most comprehensive health insurance plan on offer and is likely to be the most expensive for most people. Each of the Saga health plans can be tailored to suit your individual requirements and doing so is likely to impact the overall cost of the cover.

We provide more details about each of the Saga health plans later in this article, including how you can tailor the cover. However, we would recommend that you speak to an independent health insurance specialist when considering the best health insurance policy for you and your family. An independent specialist can provide valuable assistance when choosing the right policy for you, including recommendations on how to bring down the cost of the cover. By speaking to an independent specialist*, you'll receive expert advice, meaning you will be told if a better or cheaper product exists elsewhere.

Saga health insurance plans

Below we explain a little more about each of the Saga health insurance plans.

Saga HealthPlan Support

This is Saga's most basic health insurance option which is limited in the cover it provides but can reduce the cost of health insurance. The limitations mean that you will be covered for all in-patient or day-patient treatment except for mental health but you won't be covered for any outpatient treatments, consultations or diagnostics. You will, however, be able to access the Saga GP service, Anytime Healthline and the Cancer Care Team support.

Saga HealthPlan Saver Plus

Saga HealthPlan Saver Plus provides good all-round cover including up to £1,000 for eligible outpatient treatment. Additionally, it covers unlimited follow-up CT, MRI and PET scans, so long as they are within 8 months of the related, inpatient/day-patient treatment or outpatient surgical procedure. This plan also includes £1,500 cover for treatment of mental health conditions, as well as additional benefits including home nursing for up to two weeks and access to a second medical opinion service.

Saga HealthPlan Secure

Saga HealthPlan Secure is an upgrade on the Saver Plus plan with up to £2,000 of cover for eligible outpatient treatment. This plan also provides unlimited follow-up CT, MRI and PET scans with no requirement for them to be within 8 months of the related treatment or procedure. Additionally, there is £2,000 of cover for treatment of mental health conditions, as well as home nursing for up to thirteen weeks. Additional benefits include recuperative care and ambulance transport.

Saga HealthPlan Super

Saga HealthPlan Super is Saga's most comprehensive health insurance plan offering unlimited cover for eligible outpatient treatment. The policy receives the highest 5-star award from independent analyst Defaqto. This plan also includes £2,500 cover for treatment of mental health conditions, home nursing for up to thirteen weeks and offers an increased £150 per night NHS cash benefit (£100 per night with all other plans). This policy is likely to suit those with a larger budget and who do not want their cover to be capped.

Saga health insurance plans compared

Below we provide a comparison of the four health plans offered by Saga health insurance. To make it easier to compare we have summarised each plan, split into three main categories: inpatient and day patient treatment, outpatient treatment, and finally additional benefits.

Inpatient and day patient treatment

Saga Support Health Insurance Plan Saga Saver Plus Health Insurance Plan Saga Secure Health Insurance Plan Saga Super Health Insurance Plan
Prompt access as a private patient tick tick tick tick
Surgeon, anaesthetist and physician fees tick tick tick tick
Accommodation costs tick tick tick tick
Operating theatre and nursing costs tick tick tick tick
Treatment of mental health conditions tick tick tick

Outpatient treatment

Saga Support Health Insurance Plan Saga Saver Plus Health Insurance Plan Saga Secure Health Insurance Plan Saga Super Health Insurance Plan
Surgical procedures tick tick tick tick
Consultations with a specialist and diagnostic tests tick tick tick
Practitioner and physiotherapist charges tick tick tick
Therapist and acupuncturist charges tick tick tick
Cancer treatment, including charges for radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and eligible outpatient cancer treatment following diagnosis tick tick tick
CT, MRI and PET scans in a scanning centre listed in the Saga Countrywide Hospital List tick tick tick
Specialist consultations and diagnostic tests for mental health treatment tick tick tick

Additional benefits

Additional details Saga Support Health Insurance Plan Saga Saver Plus Health Insurance Plan Saga Secure Health Insurance Plan Saga Super Health Insurance Plan
NHS cash benefit for up to 20 nights per year tick tick tick tick
Home nursing following eligible inpatient treatment (on specialist recommendation) tick tick tick
Recuperative care following eligible inpatient treatment tick tick
Ambulance transport (on specialist recommendation) tick tick
Major dental cash benefits for specified dental procedures tick
Dental injuries benefit tick
External prosthesis benefit tick tick tick tick
Working Body (physiotherapy treatment) tick tick tick
Second opinion service tick tick tick
Saga GP service tick tick tick tick
Saga Health Information Line tick tick tick tick
Cancer Care Team support tick tick tick tick
Stronger Minds mental health support tick tick tick

As explained earlier in this article, some Saga benefits have an upper limit on the amount you can claim and so it would be wise to speak to an independent health insurance specialist to ensure that the specific benefits that you require are covered without any limits or exclusions.

Reducing the cost of Saga health insurance quotes

As with most health insurance plans, Saga offers a number of ways that you can tailor the policy which can help to reduce the amount you pay. Three of the easiest ways that you can reduce the cost of your Saga health insurance policy is by altering the excess, opting for the fixed fast track option and finally selecting the 4-week wait option. We explain each of these in more detail below. 

Saga health insurance excess

A policy excess is the amount you will need to contribute towards a claim. As with other insurance, adding an excess to your policy reduces the cost. This is the amount you agree to contribute towards a claim before any benefit is payable. Saga allows you to choose from the following excess options.

  • £0
  • £100
  • £250
  • £500
  • £750
  • £1,000

The policy excess is payable once per person, per policy year (regardless of the number of claims made).

Fixed fast track option

Opting for the fixed fast track option can help to reduce the cost of your Saga health insurance plan. Selecting this option essentially means that Saga will source a number of appropriate specialists on your behalf, rather than you receiving a named referral from your GP. Saga states that this process is quick and convenient and that customers will usually be seen quicker than customers who receive a named referral.

4-week wait option

Saga's 4-week wait option requires you to agree to use the NHS in certain circumstances. It works as follows:

  • You will use the NHS if your specialist confirms that it is able to treat you locally within four weeks of the date that they advise it is required
  • You can claim £100 NHS cash benefit for each night you are in hospital for up to £2,000 per year (HealthPlan Super pays £150 per night up to £3,000 per year).
  • Immediate private treatment is available for eligible radiotherapy or chemotherapy performed as day patient or outpatient treatment
  • The following common conditions will be covered for immediate private treatment even if the NHS can treat you within four weeks: Varicose veins surgery, correction of squint, removal of gall bladder, insertion of grommets, haemorrhoidectomy, tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy and removal of bunions.

In summary, if waiting times within the NHS are four weeks or more, you’ll be seen promptly in a private hospital for any eligible cover. Many health insurance providers include a similar option, however, some offer a 6-week wait. This means that private health treatment may be more likely through Saga.

Saga health insurance hospital lists

Saga Health Insurance customers can choose to be treated via one of the following hospital options:

  • Fixed Fast Track – the quickest way to receive treatment. Saga will source a choice of appropriate specialists local to you
  • Saga Countrywide Hospital List – an extensive choice of private medical facilities nationwide
  • Additional London hospitals – hospitals in the Saga Countrywide Hospital list plus additional central London hospitals

The hospitals included in the Saga Countrywide Hospital List include hospital groups such as Spire, Nuffield, BMI and Ramsay. There are also Independent hospitals and NHS hospitals with Private Patient Units.

How much does Saga health insurance cost?

The cost of Saga health insurance depends on a number of factors. There are four different health plans to choose from and each plan can be tailored to suit your individual needs, including the amount of excess you are willing to pay in the event of a claim. Quotes start at around £60 per month for a 50-year-old choosing Saga HealthPlan Saver Plus with an excess of £500, rising to around £120 per month for the most comprehensive cover. The cost can be lowered by increasing the policy excess and opting for the fixed fast track and 4-week options. Alternatively, cover can be improved by selecting optional benefits including extended cancer cover and protecting your no-claims discount, however, this will result in higher premiums. To get an accurate Saga health insurance quote, complete this short form* to speak to an independent health insurance specialist.

Is Saga health insurance any good?

Saga plc has over 35,000 customer ratings on the independent customer review site Trustpilot, scoring 4.3 out of 5.0. The company is rated as 'Excellent' with around 90% of reviewers scoring it either 4 or 5 stars. Many of the positive reviews cite excellent customer service while some negative reviews cite problems at the claim stage. It is worth noting that the reviews are for Saga plc which includes all of its products and services and so is not specific to Saga health insurance plans.

You will also find that Saga operates a 3-year moratorium period which means that for any pre-existing medical conditions, as long as you have had no treatment, symptoms or referral for a historical illness for the last 3 years, you will be covered. Some health insurance providers operate a 5-year moratorium period meaning Saga would cover your historical health conditions sooner.

Pros and cons of buying Saga health insurance

Pros of buying Saga health insurance

  • Cover is specifically designed for the over 50s market
  • 4-week wait option helps to reduce costs. It is a better option than the 6-week wait option from other health insurance providers
  • Access to a GP 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

Cons of buying Saga health insurance

  • Cover can be expensive – make sure you compare the whole market when getting health insurance quotes
  • Renewal fees can be expensive after the first year
  • Saga's basic health insurance plan – Saga HealthPlan Saver Plus – is only available over the telephone

Where can I buy the cheapest Saga health insurance policy?

If you want to get an accurate Saga health insurance quote then you should speak to an independent health insurance specialist. They will be able to guide you through the decision-making process, ensuring that you understand the options. They can then recommend the best policy for your circumstances. Furthermore, an independent specialist can compare the whole of the health insurance market, ensuring they recommend the policy that provides the most comprehensive cover for your budget.

We have partnered with one of the leading private health insurance specialists in the UK*. They will be able to provide advice and guidance throughout the whole process and can even assist with completing forms and liaising with the insurance company on your behalf.

You'll also qualify for £100 cashback if you decide to take out a private healthcare policy. Offer ends 30th April 2024.

Saga health insurance summary

Saga is the only health insurance provider that specialises in the over-50s market. There are a number of options available to customers, meaning they can tailor the cover to suit their individual needs and budget. All policies come with 24-hour GP access and all plans pay a cash benefit for up to 20 nights per year should you require overnight treatment with the NHS. Saga's 4-week wait option means that customers can bring down the cost of their cover if they can receive treatment within 4 weeks through the NHS. This option is particularly attractive when compared to other health insurance providers, as they may stipulate a waiting period of 6 weeks. Saga has a good record for excellent levels of customer service too. If these factors are high on your priority list, then Saga could be a good option for you.

Keep in mind, however, that there could be cheaper options out there. So, if you are keen to get the cheapest health insurance policy, make sure that you shop around.


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