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How much do private medical treatments cost UK?

Our latest independent health insurance review looks at the costs of personally funded private healthcare to illustrate how much you might need to pay for common treatments or surgeries. The numbers of households obtaining quotes for health insurance in the UK is at record levels as more British families look for alternatives to NHS and constantly growing waiting times.

Private hospital treatments can vary from under £1,000 for simple operation like a mole removal up to and over £15,000 for a full hip or knee replacement.

In this guide we’ll look at the most common private procedures that people claim for on health insurance policies or pay for personally. We’ve looked at comparisons from the top private hospital facilities in the UK to give you the average costs.

An image of a health care professional speaking to a patient with the caption 'How much does Private Healthcare Cost 2023? Our health experts look at the current costs of Private Healthcare in the UK'
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60-Second Summary – How much does Private Healthcare cost UK?

Our team of independent financial and health insurance experts are constantly reviewing the costs of private medical treatments and comparing to the costs of health insurance in the UK. Our latest guide looks at what you might have to pay if you needed to have treatment or surgery outside of the NHS.

  • NHS waiting times for non-emergency treatments are consistently increasing and patients are currently on waiting lists for years potentially for life-changing surgery (e.g. hip or knee replacements)
  • More UK families than ever before are considering turning to private healthcare and health insurance to help them to access higher levels of care and far more quickly.
  • Opting for private healthcare can cost £1,000’s for certain treatments and can be unaffordable for many families or individuals without health insurance.
  • Health insurance has become more affordable and more flexible than ever before to meet the needs of UK households.

What do private medical treatments cost?

We’ve looked at the top treatments and procedures from some of the main private hospital facilities in the UK to compare costs. You should be aware that costs can vary significantly depending on your circumstances and your geographic location.

For example, certain procedures might cost significantly more for people living in and around the London area. Your surgery might also be more complicated than another person who has the same medical issue, so costs can vary.

Note: Prices provided are purely as a guide and may be subject to significant change depending on your individual circumstances and your location. You should request specific quotes from your local private hospital for exact pricing.

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Below is a list of some of the most common medical procedures in private healthcare and for health insurance claims.

  • A Cruciate Ligament reconstruction surgery: £7,500
  • Ankle surgery: £6,400
  • Carpal tunnel surgery (release): £2,000
  • Cataract surgery: £2,800
  • Colonoscopy: £2,400
  • Consultations: £200
  • Gallbladder removal: £6,500
  • Gastroscopy: £2,000
  • Hernia surgery: £3,500
  • Hip replacement: £13,500
  • Knee replacement: £14,700 (plus consultant fees: £1,400)
  • Liposuction: £4,500
  • Lumbar decompression surgery: £6,500 (plus consultant fees: £1,300)
  • Shoulder replacement surgery: £13,500
  • Vasectomy: £1,300

Why does my location affect the cost of private hospital treatment?

As you may have seen highlighted on some of our other health insurance pages, unfortunately private medical treatment does vary pending on geographical location. It is common private medical procedures to cost more in the South of England to many other locations around the country, especially central London.

The simple explanation is that specialists and consultants cost more in central cities and especially London. Private patients will generally expect to pay more for treatment (and health insurance premiums) if they live in London.

Most health insurance policies have a completely separate list of hospitals for central London customers.

Simple answer is yes it is possible to pay for your own private medical treatments or surgeries, and there are a few different ways to fund this. As we’ve explained above, the cost of private medical treatment can be high for certain procedures.

Here are some examples of payment options private medical treatment

1) Private health insurance

Usually the most cost effective way to pay for treatment in a private hospital is to fund it via private health insurance policy. Medical insurance will cover the cost of diagnostic tests, initial consultations, surgery and outpatient treatment. Some policies will even cover the cost of private rooms depending on your level of cover.

When you consider the costs of most private medical treatments, health insurance works out considerably cheaper in most instances should you need it. Health insurance will also often include additional benefits free of charge such as discounted gym memberships.

2) Self-funded

It is also possible and quite common for people to pay for private medical procedures themselves either from savings or asking family or friends for help to spread the cost. This is usually for people who are struggling to get the treatment that they need free on the NHS or where waiting times for booking appointments are extremely long.

3) Private medical loan

Most private hospitals and medical specialist will usually have a facility for either a loan or credit option via a credit provider. You will usually be able to apply for a private medical loan through the hospitals chosen credit broker or partner.

Note: Interest rates on private medical loans can be extremely high which can significantly increase the cost of any private medical treatment.

Private hospital treatment in the UK and around the world is calculated based on a number of key factors. Following list gives a brief summary of the main elements for calculating the cost of private medical treatment.

1) Private hospital location

This can be one of the most important factors when considering the cost of private medical treatment or private hospital surgery. As we’ve explained above as we’ve explained above the location of the private hospital facility can have a significant bearing on the cost of treatment or surgery.

As a rule, private hospitals in central city locations (e.g. London) will cost significantly more and out of town facilities. An example would be cost of treatment in central London could be as much as 20% higher than other private hospital facilities in the UK.

This is the main reason why guided hospital lists on health insurance policies are significantly cheaper than ones where you choose your hospital.

2) How complicated the procedure is

Some medical procedures are simply more complicated and time consuming than others, also may come with significantly higher risks. A simple procedure such as cataract surgery will cost significantly less then a more complicated procedure such as hip or knee replacement.

If there are additional risks and your situation such as pre-existing medical conditions or other health risks and then costs can also increase. Insurers will usually take your medical history into account when deciding on pricing. You may also have additional costs for medications and potential precautionary measures.

3) Consultancy fees

Every private medical procedure will require a consultant or a specialist to oversee every stage of your treatment and surgery. More qualified and more experienced consultants will simply cost more the more junior doctors or specialists.

More complicated procedures will usually require higher level consultants with greater experience in that particular field. If your procedure is high risk then you may require a top level surgeon or consultant to make sure everything goes smoothly as possible.

4) Outpatient treatment

The vast majority of private medical procedures will require an element of outpatient care post-surgery treatment, such as therapies. This is to aid the recovery process to make sure but you get back to full fitness as quickly as possible.

Most health insurance policies will provide an element of outpatient cover which can cover things like therapies and medications to help your recovery process. If you’re required to fund this yourself then things like physiotherapy can be costly.

5) Medications

As you will probably know from your own experience with regular day-to-day illness medicines can be quite costly. Private hospitals also have to pay for medications for before, after and during surgery which can increase the cost treatment significantly.

Some of the most common medications will include general anaesthetics, pain relief and medication to support the recovery process.

6) Medical equipment

Another significant cost with private medical treatment is the equipment used which tends to be most up to date and advanced available. The cost of medical equipment in any hospital is usually one of the biggest costs because of the amount of technology required even for simple procedures.

Most private hospital facilities will have the latest and most advanced medical equipment which will also cost more than other less advanced equipment. As a provider of leading private medical treatment they will be required have the latest technology for treating patients.

7) Costs of staff

All private hospital facilities require a significant amount of staff for them to function properly from day-to-day operational and cleaning staff all the way up to consultants and surgeons. If you can set up the amount of staff required to run a private medical facility then you will understand how high these costs can be.

8) Public indemnity and liability insurance

Any business will be required to have insurances in place to protect against potential loss and liability. This is especially the case with private hospital facilities where extremely high risk procedures take place and insuring very expensive medical equipment.

The cost of public indemnity and liability insurance for a private hospital facility can be hundreds of thousands of pounds every year. This in turn can significantly increase the cost of private medical treatment or surgery for patients.

9) Systems and technology

All businesses rely extremely heavily on IT infrastructure and systems to function properly in the modern age. Private hospitals will have extremely complicated systems to track and monitor everything that goes on inside and outside the facility.

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The cost of a private consultation can vary dramatically depending on your location and the level of experience or qualifications of your consultant. On average the cost of private consultations without health insurance in the UK is between £200 and £300.

How to compare the cost of private health insurance

If you’re thinking about taking out health insurance to make sure that you receive private medical treatment if needed, then you should speak to a medical insurance expert. You’ll be able to compare quotes quickly and easily from several of the top health insurance providers to find the best and most suitable cover.

Our experts will provide you with a free health insurance quote from the UK’s top providers including AXA, Aviva, Bupa, The Exeter, and Health-on-Line.

Searching for health insurance can be difficult and confusing, especially if you have never considered health insurance in the past. A medical insurance expert or broker will be able to compare different cover options and different providers for you.

Frequently asked questions about private healthcare

How much does a private medical cost UK?

A private medical exam will vary in cost depending on where in the country you live. According to online figures, you could expect to pay anywhere between £200 – £300 for a private health screening.

Health insurance will often include extra benefits such as access to private medical exams (typically once per year) to check for early signs of serious conditions such as diabetes or high cholesterol.


Is it worth paying for private healthcare in the UK?

Many people are now finding it more worthwhile to pay for private medical care in the UK, due to consistently growing NHS waiting lists.

While the NHS does a good job, you could be waiting months for the treatment you need (or even years!). Choosing to go private can cut this waiting time down significantly and you can often be seen by a specialist within days of a diagnosis.


How much is a night in a private hospital UK?

The cost of private hospital stays will vary based on where you live in the UK and the hospital you choose. You can expect to be paying hundreds of £s for one or more nights in a private hospital though.

Private health insurance will usually cover costs for inpatient treatments, meaning you won’t need to worry about how to pay for this yourself. You can just submit a claim on your policy and if it is approved your insurance provider will settle the bill with the hospital or clinic directly.


Can I see a consultant privately then have treatment on the NHS?

YES – It is common to mix and match NHS and private treatments, so the care you get is what works best for you. If you are worried about symptoms and want a quick diagnosis, you may choose to see a private specialist.

If you are happy to be treated on the NHS after this, the NHS won’t refuse to see patients who have previously received private care. Private health insurance also won’t cover every situation, so you may need to go back to the NHS depending on what the issue is.

You normally won’t be able to claim for emergency treatment, so if there is something urgently wrong you would need to use an NHS Accident & Emergency (A&E) service.

Related articles

How to buy cheap health insurance

How much is private health insurance UK

Best private health insurance 2023

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What is the average cost of health insurance UK?

One of the top questions that people ask about health insurance is, ‘how much does it cost on average per month?’. According to recent research taken in 2023, the average cost of a health insurance is £86 per month for a standard personal protection policy. Health insurance policies can vary dramatically based on your age and the type of cover that you need, as well as which insurance provider you choose.

Most core health insurance policies will provide a similar level of protection and coverage for private medical treatments. You can tailor your health insurance policy to suit your needs and your budget by changing the benefits and levels of cover that you receive.

Is health insurance worth it?

Health insurance is the same as most other personal protection policies that you can buy, it is down to your own personal preference and attitude to risk. The other major issue is whether you can afford to pay for health insurance every month because it can be expensive.

If you ever need to claim on your health insurance policy then the benefits can be life changing and even lifesaving. The medical treatments and care that is provided by the NHS in the UK is among the best in the world, especially for chronic illness. Unfortunately, it is a well-known fact that the NHS is struggling to meet demand and that the levels of private medical treatment are generally far superior to public health treatments.

Example: If you needed knee surgery then you would have to wait for months or even years on the NHS, whereas private health insurance will give you access to better treatment, leading specialists, and within weeks usually. Rehabilitation and therapies cover that are also provided by most health insurance policies can be invaluable, especially if you are self-employed for example.

Is private health insurance better than the NHS?

Currently, the biggest issue with the NHS is the waiting times for any consultations and access to treatments, because of how stretched its resources are. The NHS provides some of the best care in the world for chronic illnesses and diseases, such as diabetes, MS, epilepsy, and asthma.

Health insurance is designed to complement and support the treatment that you can receive on the National Health Service, as well as giving you access to specialists for other medical issues such as musculoskeletal issues and cancer treatment, which are also the top reasons for claims on health insurance cover.

The main issues with NHS treatment currently and reasons for people taking out health insurance:

  • Long waiting lists for consultations, results and treatment
  • Overcrowded hospitals
  • Lack of beds
  • Shortages of NHS nurses and doctors
  • Some treatments not available (especially cancer treatments)
  • Specialists only available on private health insurance
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What is the best health insurance UK?

There are lots of different policy options when considering health insurance as well as your choice of several main insurance providers. The other consideration is whether you don’t take out health insurance and opt for receiving treatment on the NHS or paying for treatment yourself as and when you need it.

We’re constantly reviewing the top health insurance companies in the UK to find out which provide the best service, value, products and treatments. Based on our most recent reviews we suggest the following as the best health insurance UK 2023:

  1. Aviva Healthcare Solutions (Trustpilot score: 4.1 out of 5.0)
  2. BUPA Health Insurance (Trustpilot score: 4.0 out of 5.0)
  3. Vitality Personal Healthcare (Trustpilot score: 3.9 out of 5.0)
  4. Exeter Health+ (Trustpilot score: 4.4 out of 5.0)
  5. AXA PPP (Trustpilot score: 4.1 out of 5.0)
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