How much does private health insurance cost?

10 min Read Published: 24 May 2021

how much does health insurance cost?Private health insurance (often referred to as private medical insurance or PMI) is considered to be a luxury to some, while others will tell you that it is a must-buy insurance policy. It divides opinion primarily because of the existence of the NHS and, to a lesser extent, because the policy is often assumed to be too expensive.

The NHS does a wonderful job of providing access to free healthcare to the population of the UK, however, it does have its pitfalls. It is often overstretched and underfunded, meaning you may face long delays waiting to be referred, diagnosed and treated. Private health insurance provides an opportunity for those that require consultation and treatment to be seen quicker while simultaneously easing the strain on the NHS.

So how much does private health insurance cost? In this article we explain what private health insurance is, what it covers, whether you need it, what it costs and crucially, how to bring the cost of the cover down and who best to buy it from.

What is private health insurance?

Private health insurance provides you with quick access to private medical staff and facilities, enabling you to be seen far quicker than on 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.

What does private health insurance cover?

One of the frustrations with private health insurance is that the insurance companies that provide the cover 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) and 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:

  • Specialist referrals at your request
  • Speedy consultation, diagnosis and treatment
  • Access to top surgeons and 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

Do I need health insurance?

Only you can answer that question. You would need to weigh up your reasons for considering the cover. 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.

By buying private health insurance you are effectively skipping the 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 is usually the key factor for most when determining whether it is worth purchasing. We give some examples of the cost later in this article.

What can impact 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 cut down the cost of your premiums.

Factors that can impact 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 health and claims history
  • whether you smoke

How much does private health insurance cost?

As there are many factors that can impact the cost of health insurance it is impossible to provide exact prices as health insurance quotes are unique to each applicant. What we can do however is provide a guide as to the likely cost of cover for a number of scenarios. Ultimately, the best way to ensure that you get the best possible health insurance cover for the cheapest monthly premium is to speak to an independent specialist and we explain how to do that in the next section.

Cost comparison - Health insurance for a 25-year-old non-smoker

Policy Type £0 Excess £250 Excess £500 Excess £1,000 Excess
Basic £35 £32 £29 £30
Intermediate £55 £39 £36 £33
Comprehensive £80 £58 £51 £41

Cost comparison - Health insurance for a 35-year-old non-smoker

Policy Type £0 Excess £250 Excess £500 Excess £1,000 Excess
Basic £40 £35 £31 £28
Intermediate £60 £47 £41 £35
Comprehensive £85 £67 £55 £46

Cost comparison - Health insurance for a 45-year-old non-smoker

Policy Type £0 Excess £250 Excess £500 Excess £1,000 Excess
Basic £63 £51 £45 £35
Intermediate £80 £65 £57 £43
Comprehensive £115 £90 £75 £67

Cost comparison - Health insurance for a 55-year-old non-smoker

Policy Type £0 Excess £250 Excess £500 Excess £1,000 Excess
Basic £88 £82 £68 £58
Intermediate £108 £105 £77 £67
Comprehensive £151 £130 £117 £90

The quotes above are based on the average cost across multiple providers 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 bring the cost of the cover down further. See the next section for more details.

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.

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 own unique circumstances and ask all of the questions that are necessary to ensure you are getting the best quote for your own unique circumstances. For example, you can provide an independent specialist with your budget amount and they will shop around to find you the most comprehensive cover to fit that budget.

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 policies to suit your budget. 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 from Assured Futures call 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 - Assured Futures