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Individual health insurance

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What is individual health insurance

Individual health insurance is a policy that covers a single person. You may be able to get health insurance through your employer but taking out an individual policy yourself gives you greater freedom over what provider you choose to go with, what your policy covers, and how much you pay.

Like any private medical insurance policy, individual health insurance covers the cost of any private healthcare you may need. You pay a monthly or annual premium, and your insurer covers the cost of the treatment you need. 

What are the benefits of individual health insurance?

Individual health insurance helps fund your access to private medical care. Most people take out a policy to enjoy the benefits of going private, which include:

  • Avoiding lengthy NHS waiting lists for operations
  • Access to the top specialists and consultants
  • Choose to be treated in a private hospital

But there are many more ways private medical insurance can benefit you, from quicker diagnosis to round-the-clock access to a private GP.

For a full rundown of the benefits, see our health insurance page.

Is individual health insurance the right policy for me?

If you only want to cover yourself, then it likely is. But if you’re looking to cover your partner as well, or even your whole family, grouping your loved ones under a family health insurance or joint health insurance policy may be cheaper and easier. Your premiums are likely to be lower per person and you’ll find it easier to keep track of who is covered for what – allowing you to focus on what really matters if you or your loved ones fall sick

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What does individual health insurance cover?

There are a few levels of cover to choose from, with more advanced policies covering almost everything you could hope to receive in terms of private healthcare. Basic policies will usually only cover inpatient care - care you receive while in hospital - and not diagnostic procedures to uncover a new illness. Mid-level policies may offer the basics with a limited level of diagnostics.

  • Basic policies - Inpatient treatment only
  • Medium policies - Inpatient treatment and diagnostics up to a pre-agreed limit
  • Comprehensive policies - Inpatient treatment, full diagnostics and added extras like physiotherapy

What isn’t covered by individual health insurance?

Most private medical insurance policies won’t cover pre-existing conditions or things like deliberately self-inflicted injuries and illness due to drug abuse. Check with your policy provider for the full list of what is and isn’t covered, as there are likely to be other exclusions too.

How much does individual health insurance cost?

How much you pay for your policy is based on everything from your age to your health to your location. Here's a quick rundown of the average1 for them.

Non-smoking 35-year old

£30.12

70-year-old

£123.33

How much you pay for your policy is based on everything from your age to your health to your location. But for a quick rundown of the average, for a non-smoking 35-year old, most policyholders pay £30.12 a month for a basic policy, while 70-year-olds pay £123.331

1Figures based on quotes for a 35 or 70-year-old non-smoker living in the LE9 postcode, paying a £250 excess. Figures correct as of February 2021.

How to reduce the cost

There’re a few ways to ensure you get the best individual health insurance policy for you, at the best price.

  • Think about excess as the more you’re willing to pay, the cheaper your premiums will be
  • Get the right cover level for you, to avoid shelling out for benefits you don’t need
  • Consider joint or family cover as this is almost always cheaper than taking out individual policies for each member of your family
  • Get healthy as fit, clean-living non-smokers pay less

We compare many health insurance companies to save you money

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Need more help?

Is there anything else I need to know about health insurance?

Before you take out an individual health insurance policy, there’s a few things to consider:

  • Some policies come with added extras, which can range from inclusive chiropractic care to mental health support and more. If you want a truly comprehensive policy, it’s worth looking into the added extras each cover level provides
  • Not everything is covered, and as well as common exclusions like pre-existing conditions, things like routine pregnancy care, or A&E visits may not be available with your policy. Think about what you want your policy to cover and look into whether your insurer will help provide those areas of care.
  • You may need to be diagnosed on the NHS if you opt for a basic policy, as private diagnosis is usually only available with medium to comprehensive level policies
  • You could get bonus incentives like gym membership or sports tracking devices with your policy. Keep an eye out for these if they’re something that interest you

 

Can I still use the NHS?

Yes, having a private medical insurance policy does not take away your right to access the NHS. Some policies may even require you to first be diagnosed on the NHS, before you can receive private treatment. Individual health insurance simply gives you the option to opt for private healthcare if you want it, meaning more flexibility and control over how, where and by whom you’re treated.

What our health insurance expert says

You may be able to get health insurance through your work, but your options will be limited. Having your own policy gives you more freedom over what you’re covered for, who you go with and what you pay. You can choose your own added extras too.
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Jac Morris

Health insurance expert