How much does private health insurance cost?

8 min Read Published: 02 Jul 2024

how much does health insurance cost?The cost of private health insurance is presumed by many to be beyond their means and some people may even view it as luxury insurance. However, it is worth looking at the real cost of health insurance plans before you make this assumption.

UK residents can access the National Health Service (NHS) for their medical needs which is free at the point of need but waiting times for some aspects of public healthcare can cause frustration. In cases where cancer treatment is most effective with early diagnosis, access to private healthcare could make a vital difference. Similarly, 24/7 virtual GP appointments can ease the frustration that is caused by a lack of appointments through the NHS for minor ailments.

Insurers offer tiered health insurance policies that cater to varying customers' budgets providing private health insurance options* that could make a real difference. You may even find that comprehensive private medical insurance is not as out of reach as you thought.

So how much does private health insurance cost? In this article, we explain how much private health insurance costs, what you can expect to be covered for and how to find private medical insurance solutions that are affordable to you.

1 minute summary - How much does private health insurance cost?

  • Private medical insurance costs depend on the insurance company you choose, the type of cover you apply for, the excess you choose, your age and whether you smoke
  • You can receive reduced premiums at renewal with no claims discounts
  • Premiums range from roughly £25 to £100 per month
  • Most private medical insurance policies provide private GP appointments, specialist consultant referrals, diagnostic testing and medical treatment
  • Cancer treatment options can be tailored to your budget
  • You can usually access top surgeons and hospitals, specialist drugs and treatment that may not be available on the NHS
  • Many policies include additional therapies such as physiotherapy and mental health counselling.
  • Always shop around for the best deal
  • Access an instant online health insurance quote* or speak to an independent expert who can find you the best and cheapest health insurance plan
  • You will receive £100 cashback if you buy your health insurance this way – the offer ends on 31st July 2024.

What is private health insurance?

Private health insurance can provide you with access to private medical care in the form of diagnostics, consultations and treatment as well as virtual GP appointments, therapies and support. You will often be seen, investigated and treated more quickly than may be possible if you were to use the NHS. With private health insurance, you can often be referred, diagnosed and treated within a matter of days. If treatment is required you will often be given your own room with ensuite facilities, round-the-clock visiting hours and even access to treatment and drugs that are not available through the NHS.

How much does private health insurance cost?

Private health insurance can start at as little as £15 per month for a basic but limited health insurance policy while more comprehensive health insurance options are likely to start at around £25 per month. The cost of health insurance will vary based on your personal information with your age being the most significant factor but it will also change depending on the health insurance options that you choose to include in your cover. These options will determine when you can make a claim and some parts of your cover may include limits.

In order to demonstrate how much private health insurance costs, we gathered a number of competitive health insurance quotes from insurers across the health insurance market. These included but were not limited to quotes from Aviva, WPA, Bupa, The Exeter, Vitality, General & Medical, AXA Health, National Friendly, Freedom Health Insurance and Health-on-line. We looked at the cost of private health insurance for people aged 25, 35, 45 and 55 years old and then applied different excess amounts to the quotes so that we could see how the costs changed based on how much you are willing to pay towards a health insurance claim if you need to make one. We chose quotes that included cancer cover wherever this was possible.

Once we found the best-priced health insurance quotes based on these ranges we worked out the average cost of private medical care by age and have detailed this below.

Average cost of private health insurance

Age Average cost of private health insurance
25 years old £29.46
35 years old £39.40
45 years old £52.84
55 years old £70.64

Average costs are based on health insurance quotes that are paid monthly for non-smokers living in the West Midlands as of July 2024

In many cases, the cost of private health insurance did not change much between an excess of £250 to £500 so getting the best value for money when searching for private medical insurance is not straightforward.

The quotes above are based on the average cost across multiple providers reflecting various health insurance costs in the UK and so to guarantee the best price for your own circumstances you should speak to an independent specialist* who can search the whole of the market on your behalf. Not only can they guarantee to find you the best quote, but they can also help with the application process and even provide guidance on how to reduce the cost of private health insurance by making smart choices that will tailor your health insurance to suit your needs and your budget. See the next section for more details.

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What does private health insurance cover?

Private health insurance usually covers access to private outpatient consultations including tests, and investigations involved in diagnostics and treatment. Inpatient treatment in a private hospital is usually also covered but some of the more commonly used and lesser-known benefits are access to virtual private GP access, therapies and counselling.

However, the frustration with private health insurance is that the insurance companies that provide it have made it unnecessarily complicated. Firstly, there are different levels of cover you can buy which can broadly be described as basic, intermediate and comprehensive, each offering varying levels of cover. Next, you will need to choose an excess you would be willing to pay should you make a claim (similar to car insurance). Finally, when it comes to applying, you will have to choose between applying on a full medical underwriting basis or a moratorium basis. We explain all of these options in more detail in our article “How to compare the best insurance policies in the UK”.

Below, we have provided a summary of the main features of a private health insurance policy:

  • Private GP appointments
  • Specialist consultations
  • Speedy consultation, diagnosis and treatment
  • Cancer diagnosis and treatment
  • Access to top surgeons 
  • Access to private hospitals
  • Likely to get a private room with ensuite facilities
  • Access to specialist drugs and treatment that may not be available on the NHS
  • Physiotherapy
  • Mental health support

What determines the cost of private health insurance?

The cost of health insurance is impacted by multiple factors and so it is important that you understand what these factors are and more importantly, how you can use this information to determine the cost of private health insurance as well as how to cut down the cost of your premiums.

Factors that determine the cost of your health insurance premiums are:

  • the insurance company you choose
  • the type of cover you apply for (basic, intermediate or comprehensive)
  • the excess you choose
  • your age
  • your medical history
  • your claims history
  • whether you smoke

Is private health insurance worth the cost?

Only you can answer that question. You would need to weigh up your reasons for considering the cover which may include how getting quick access to medical care could protect your personal circumstances. You could find that you are able to:

  • Get back to work and earn more quickly
  • Limit the impact of illness on your ability to care for your family
  • Prevent your ailments from getting worse before you get treatment

If you are happy with the standard of care provided by the NHS and are happy to wait to receive treatment then there would be no need to purchase health insurance. Like most considerations for buying any type of insurance, it is difficult to foresee what the future holds and what you may need – your concerns may differ from those of others.

Having access to private medical care through private health insurance could protect you from prolonged time off work and the impact this could have on your earnings. For many people, children's private health insurance is their main concern as they may be happy to wait for treatment as adults but perhaps less comfortable with the idea of struggling to get fast and easy access to treatment for their children.

By buying private health insurance you are effectively skipping the NHS queue and gaining quick access to private medical staff and facilities as well as the potential to receive alternative drugs and treatment.

Private health insurance comes at a cost however and this is usually the key factor for most when determining whether it is worth purchasing. It can be sensible to weigh up the potential cost of time off work if you were to fall ill and find yourself waiting for medical referrals and treatment through the NHS.

Take, for instance, that the statutory NHS waiting time for knee replacement surgery is 18 weeks but at the time of writing, reports suggest that over 2 million patients are waiting longer than the statutory waiting time. This can be costly for many and can have a great impact on your daily life and is particularly costly for self-employed people.

You should always check with a health insurance broker if you have a pre-existing medical condition as some health insurance providers may include cover for it while others may exclude claims for it. You'll find information about how to arrange this later in the article.

How to buy the cheapest and best health insurance policy

It is likely that when it comes to health insurance providers, you will have heard of the likes of Axa Health, Bupa and Vitality, but there are many other lesser-known companies that provide excellent private health insurance and so we would always recommend that you do a comprehensive comparison before you commit to one insurer. With so many health insurance companies to choose from, people often make the mistake of going with the company that comes up first on a comparison site search, however, in many cases, this can be a costly mistake. Also, some health insurance policies such as Benenden Health cover can be right for you but you would have to weigh up the significant limitations to this type of budget private health insurance option.

The best way to buy private health insurance is to speak to a specialist adviser* as they will be able to find you the best policy for your specific priorities. The health insurance adviser will take the time to understand what you need, your budget amount and they will shop around to find you the most comprehensive cover to fit that budget. If you wish to cover your children under your private health insurance, they will make recommendations that are more likely to give your children a good level of cover at the best cost too. Choices such as hospital lists can significantly reduce the monthly premiums for your private health insurance and a health insurance adviser will explain which choices will save you money without limiting the access to private healthcare near you.

We have partnered with one of the UK's leading private health insurance comparison specialists* in order to provide you with not just the cheapest, but the most comprehensive types of insurance to suit your budget and priorities.

You will receive £100 cashback – the offer ends on 31st July 2024. All you need to get started is to click on Get private health insurance quote*. You can choose to build your own quote or alternatively request that an adviser calls you back.


If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. The following link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses – Howden Life & Health