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Health insurance

Get peace of mind with access to faster treatment

  • We compare quotes from Bupa, AXA, Aviva and more

  • Get on-hand support from health insurance broker of the year, Howden Life & Health

1Correct as of March 2024

How do I get a quote?

Getting a health insurance quote takes a few minutes. Fill in some details, compare and get covered in 4 steps:

Tell us who you'd like to cover

This can be for yourself, or include your partner, family members and children.

Select what level of cover you need

For example, treatment only, or treatment with limited or full diagnosis.

Choose your excess

This needs to be an amount you can afford to pay upfront for any claim.

Tell us about yourself

We'll ask for personal details like your GP, if you smoke, and any pre-existing conditions.

What is health insurance?

Health insurance, also called private medical insurance, pays for private healthcare outside of the NHS. You pay monthly or annually for treatment that's covered in your policy. Private health insurance can:

  • Speed up diagnoses
  • Help avoid NHS waiting lists for treatments
  • Cover therapies not funded by the NHS
  • Help cover yourself, partners, children, or family members

Buying a policy at an older age is likely to cost more. But, many providers offer cover at any age. To get health insurance, you must be at least 18. You can add children under the age of 18 to family policies if the policy holder meets the minimum age.

What our health insurance expert says

''Even though health insurance covers you for medical treatment, it won't cover you for any medical conditions that you've had in the last 5 years. For a condition to be covered, you need to be 2 years free of symptoms, any treatment or medications for that condition."

"To get the best deal, think about the level of cover you want and who you'd like covered. If you want a full treatment and diagnosis policy for you and your partner, or your family, it's going to cost more than cover for just yourself."

Matthew Harwood, Home & lifestyle insurance expert at Confused.com
Home & lifestyle insurance expert Confused.com logo

What does private health insurance cover?

Health insurance covers the cost of any private healthcare you get. But exactly what's covered depends on your policy. This is why it's important to compare health insurance plans and understand what's covered.

We compare 3 tiers of health insurance to find the best deal for you:

Treatment only

Treatment only or basic cover, can pay for any treatments you need. Including covering the costs of overnight hospital stays and operations. Some basic policies also provide cancer cover.

Private diagnosis, testing, and specialist consultations aren't included.

Treatment and limited diagnosis

Treatment and limited diagnosis or medium cover, pay for the treatments you need. Unlike the basic policies they include limited diagnosis.

This could include things like blood tests and specialist consultations. They're normally faster than the NHS. Your policy usually includes a set amount of money per year for diagnosis tests.

Treatment and full diagnosis

Treatment and full diagnosis, or comprehensive, can include diagnostics, treatment and cancer cover.

Some companies also include a variety of added extras. For example, complementary therapies, mental health cover and dental. Some companies offer these as 'optional' for extra payment.

We compare quotes from up to 13 trusted health insurance companies1

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What isn’t covered with private health insurance?

  • Emergency treatment
  • Organ transplants
  • Prescription drugs and dressings you get as an outpatient
  • Illnesses developed due to drug abuse
  • Kidney dialysis
  • Experimental, unproven treatments or drugs
  • Treatments associated with HIV/AIDS
  • Cosmetic treatments
  • Routine pregnancy procedures
  • Mobility aids such as wheelchairs
  • Self-inflicted injuries
  • Infertility

Most of these are covered by the NHS. If you want to be treated for exclusions privately, you would have to pay for them as an extra cost which is seperate to your insurance policy.

How does private medical insurance work?

Private medical insurance, or health insurance pays some or all your medical bills if you're treated privately.

Choose how you pay for your cover

Most insurance providers offer the flexibility to choose between monthly or annual payments. Giving you the option to pay in a way that suits you.

Getting started

Before booking an appointment, you may need a referral letter from your NHS GP. They can offer advice and recommend what type of specialist consultant you need.

Getting treatment

To get treatment you need to make an appointment. You need to let the GP know that you have private health insurance.

When you buy a policy, you can choose how much excess you pay. You'll need to pay this excess if you make a claim. The insurance company will pay for the cost of treatment, as long as your claim is successful.

Making a claim

To make a claim you need to have all the details ready to back-up your claim. This includes treatment information, GP referral letters and relevant medical records. Getting these details ready helps to save time. Once you have everything ready, get in touch with your insurance provider to make a claim.

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Benefits of private healthcare

  • Avoid NHS waiting lists. Private healthcare means quicker access to treatment. So you don't have to wait as long, compared to the NHS.
  • Access a wider range of treatments, therapies and medicines that aren't available on the NHS. You could benefit from better recovery and aftercare. You can get things that the NHS doesn't offer, like extended physiotherapy.
  • Potentially get a faster diagnosis. Put your mind at rest knowing that you can get quicker access to consultants and diagnostics.
  • Access top specialists and consultants. Private health insurance can make it easier to choose your own doctor. This can help you to get care from top medical experts.
  • Choose when and where you get treatment. You can make your treatments fit around your commitments by arranging them for a time that suits you. Depending on your plan, choose where you get it.
  • Stay in a private room. Enjoy a more comfortable hospital stay. The rooms often have facilities like an ensuite bathroom, which you wouldn't get on a large shared ward.

Types of health insurance

Family health insurance

Family health insurance covers the cost of private healthcare for your whole family under 1 policy. It's likely to be cheaper than buying each family member individual cover. You can add up to 7 people to your policy, including 2 adults and 5 children.

Joint health insurance

Joint health insurance covers 2 people under 1 policy. It can sometimes be cheaper than buying 2 separate policies, but not always. It provides you and your partner, or child, with private medical care.

Can you get health insurance for pre-existing conditions?

Most private health insurance policies don't cover pre-existing conditions. These are normally health issues you’ve been treated for in the last 5 years. But some insurers may put a time limit of 4 years or less.

Asthma and diabetes are common examples of pre-existing conditions. Unless you’ve gone several years without being treated for them, they usually aren't covered.

Chronic conditions - those that are likely to cause you issues for a long time - are similar. These include things like:

  • High blood pressure
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes

If you’ve recently had treatment for them, most insurers won’t cover you any further.

When getting a quote, have your medical history and details on any pre-existing conditions ready to speed up the process.

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Page last reviewed: 04 June 2024

Reviewed by: Matthew Harwood

The Confused.com medical insurance service is provided by Howden Life & Health Ltd of Hadley House, Endsleigh Park, Cheltenham, GL51 4AE registered in England & Wales company number 3040737. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Firm reference number 176392 as detailed on the Financial Services Register. Our service is free and compares a wide range of trusted household names. Confused.com is an intermediary and receives commission from Assured Futures Ltd which is based on a percentage of the total annual premium if you decide to buy through our website. We pride ourselves on impartiality on independence - therefore we don't promote any one insurance provider over another.