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How much is private health insurance

Ever growing NHS waiting lists have resulted in record numbers of enquiries for private health insurance in the UK. Historically, many consumers have viewed these policies as expensive and unaffordable, aimed at the higher earners.

This isn’t necessarily true for all circumstances and private health insurance policies can be a lot more affordable than you might think. Also, each insurance premium is based on your own individual needs and circumstances, so it’s always worth checking.

What’s the average cost of private health insurance UK?

We’re constantly reviewing and benchmarking health insurance premiums to find out which providers offer the best cover and lowest premiums. We wanted to share some of our recent research in to the average cost of a private health insurance policy in the UK to show how it compares for different ages of policyholders.

Here are some example premiums that we have generated from our recent research to show roughly what you might pay monthly for this type of cover. Also, remember that these figures are very rough estimates based on some averages over a number of postcode areas and age groups.

The average cost of private health insurance in the UK in 2023 from the top 5 insurers and based on the top 5 postcode areas is £60.09 per month (£721.08 per year).

Policyholder’s ageMonthly Premium (£’s)
20 years£33.27
30 years£42.12
40 years£53.74
50 years£69.28
60 years£102.04

Data: iam|INSURED – Private Health Insurance

*Our average premium calculations are based on some key components that should be taken in to consideration, such as these quotes have been taken from the Top 5 health insurance providers for the Top 5 postcode areas.

Prices are accurate as of 31/08/2023 and have been collated based on illustrative quotes for:

How is my private health insurance premium calculated?

Looking for private health insurance can be confusing and it can sometimes seem like the premiums you’re being quoted are ridiculous. When you understand a bit more about how health insurance premiums are calculated then you can see how to get the most for your money more easily.

There are some fundamental elements that insurers use to generate its premiums for each customer. Each insurer also has its own criteria and pricing structure so you will find that every quote will be different.

Here are some of the key elements for private health insurance pricing:

1) Your age

It is a pretty common fact that as we get older the risks of getting ill or medical problems increase. Put simply, older people are more likely to claim on health insurance than a younger person so premiums will increase.

This is in fact the exact opposite to other general insurance policies like car insurance and house insurance, where premiums tend to reduce as we get older. Similar policies to health insurance are travel insurance and life insurance, which also get more expensive as we get older.

Premiums for individuals in their 20’s, 30’s and even their 40’s are usually relatively similar, but tend to increase more sharply for over 50’s.

2) Your postcode or address

One of the key elements to pricing for private health insurance is whether you live in a certain area or postcode. This isn’t something that most consumers would think of naturally with health insurance but it does make a difference, especially for people living in London where private medical care can be expensive.

We’ll explain this in full later in the article because it’s important to understand what this means and what options you have.

3) Claims history

If you’re renewing an existing private health insurance policy then you will be asked about any claims history. This is common because each insurer will want to know how many claims have been paid out and the cost of those claims to the provider. It’s also a fundamental part of health insurance pricing because it works on the same no claims basis as other general insurance products (e.g. house insurance and car insurance).

Some insurers offer a facility to protect your no claims discount which can also help to reduce the impact of claims on renewals. If you move from one insurer to another then you might lose this option so you will need to check this before you switch.

4) Underwriting

There are two main underwriting options when you take out private health insurance cover which can also have an impact on your premiums. You should select the underwriting option that suits you best and that gives you the best cover.

Two main underwriting options:

1) Full medical underwriting (FMU) which uses your medical history and takes account of any pre-existing conditions within the premium calculation.

This can be more suitable for people who have chronic conditions (life-long medical conditions) because the premiums would reflect that these conditions will be excluded. Premiums will naturally be lower where an exclusion has been applied to ensure that the pricing is fair and reasonable.

2) Moratorium underwriting is an automated underwriting process that does not require any medical information for the application.

Any pre-existing medical conditions would still be excluded but it might be included in the future, if recovered and remain medication, treatment and symptom free for 3 years. This method can be better for people who have had acute medical issues and would potentially recover in the future.

Underwriting can be better for some people and not right for others so you just need to ask your private health insurance expert to see which is best for you.

5) Level of cover

There are lots of options when looking at private health insurance which can be a benefit and a drawback, depending on how you look at it. The benefit of this is that the cover can be flexible to fit your needs and your budget, but the drawback is that it can be confusing and difficult to compare products against one and other.

Every private health insurance policy has a core options which is the base level of cover for each insurer. Some core cover options are more comprehensive than others which can reflect in the price, but can also mean that some policies are better value than others.

You should consider which level of cover that you need and which additional benefits that you might need.

6) Excess

This works in the same way as a traditional car insurance policy which means that the more excess you are willing to pay, then the lower your premiums will be. Most health insurance policies offer excess options from £100 to £5,000 which depends on your budget and what you consider to be reasonable.

How can I save money on my private health insurance?

One of the best things about private health insurance is that you can adapt your cover to suit your budget and there are lots of options out there for you.

We’ve already explained how the various elements of health insurance pricing works and now we’ll look at how you can use that to save you money. There are also lots of different options that you can consider to help save you money, simply by getting quotes from different insurers or brokers.

Here are some of the best ways to save money on your private health insurance:

1) Increase your excess

We’ve explained earlier in this section that your excess works in the same way as other similar general insurance policies. If you increase your excess and opt for per year rather than per claim, then your premiums will reduce.

Most health insurance policies will have excess options from £0 to £3,000 which is fairly normal with this type of cover. An average excess is around £200 to £500, but also consider how much you’d be prepared to pay if you needed to make a claim.

2) Include 6 week waiting option

There is usually an option to include a ‘6 week waiting period’ which basically means that any claim will be deferred for 6 weeks. This allows people to try to use NHS hospital treatment in the first instance before activating their private health insurance.

This also means that any shorter term issues that would last for less than 6 weeks would automatically be treated by the NHS. You might end up losing some of your options to use your health insurance and receive private treatment in certain circumstances.

3) Hospitals lists and selections

As we mentioned above, your choice of hospitals and which facilities are available has an impact on how much your premiums are. Most private health insurance policies have 2 or sometimes 3 different options for hospitals lists, plus an option to choose your facility.

The cheapest route here is usually a local hospital list and for the insurance company to choose your facility in the event of claim. This is perfectly adequate for most policyholders and many are not really concerned about selecting their own hospital.

There is also usually an extra charge for people wanting to use Central London private hospitals because treatment costs are higher in this area. This is considered to be where some of the leading specialists in the country are located and hence the higher costs and charges.

4) Quit smoking

Something that we haven’t touched on yet is that smokers and vapers will pay higher premiums for private health insurance. This is the same as any other type of personal protection cover (e.g. life insurance, critical illness cover, and income protection).

The reason for the higher premiums is simply because of the additional risks to your health from smoking or vaping. If you’re thinking about giving up smoking then this can have a significant impact on your premiums for health insurance.

5) Get a renewal comparison quote

When your health insurance is due for annual renewal then you should always compare quotes from several insurance providers. Many insurers offer a ‘switch and save’ scheme which offers extra discounts for new customers moving from other providers.

One of the most common misconceptions in private health insurance is that you’ll lose some of your benefits or it is difficult to move insurer. This isn’t the case and insurers usually have a very good process for this to be able to migrate your cover to them from another insurance provider.

6) Include outpatient limits or remove outpatient cover

Another way to significantly reduce your health insurance premiums is to include limits for outpatient treatment or even remove outpatient altogether. Some policyholders are happy not to include outpatient cover while others want to have it but might be happy with a limit.

If you include a limit of £1,5000 for example, that means that your first £1,500 of treatment would be covered and the rest would be charged to you. Outpatient limits is a good way to reduce your premiums whilst still having a level of cover that you’re happy with.

7) Switch your underwriting option

There are two main options for underwriting when you apply for private health insurance which we also mentioned above. This might be more relevant for people who have a ‘chronic’ pre-existing medical condition (e.g. diabetes, MS, Asthma, Epilepsy etc.).

You could choose to go for ‘full medical underwriting’ which might exclude certain pre-existing medical conditions for the life of the policy. This isn’t always an issue as a chronic medical condition would never be covered anyway because you would never recover from this condition.

It can be a good way to reduce your premiums and make sure that your cover is more tailored to your circumstances. The only major drawback here is that you might need to have a medical or provide medical evidence from your GP.

8) Couples and family discounts

If you have a partner or a family then you could add them to your policy and receive a family or multi-person discount. Some health insurance providers offer discounts for policies that have more than one person in the plan.

It is relatively common for people to have a single policy that covers everyone in the household or in your family.

9) Discounts and rewards

There are a number of insurers now offering significant benefits which include discounts on high street brands to offset the cost of cover. Vitality were the first health insurance provider to pioneer this scheme which has now become fairly common place in personal protection insurance.

Some of the common rewards include discounts on gyms, cinema tickets, retail brands and holidays. This can be a fantastic way for policyholders to engage with healthy lifestyle programmes and earn amazing benefits as part of the scheme.

Discounts & Rewards Partners

Those who are suited to this style of cover and would be able to take advantage of these schemes can significantly reduce to net cost of cover with these rewards.

10) Remove unnecessary benefits

Private health insurance is well-known for having many different options and benefits that can be added and removed to your policy. Some options may be included automatically and these benefits may not be suitable or necessary for you. Certain providers will also provide optional extras which you can simply choose not to add to your cover.

It is definitely worth checking your policy wording to make sure that you don’t have anything on there that isn’t required. You might be able to remove some benefits and this can ultimately reduce your premiums, but some options may not be optional so you can’t remove everything.

11) Get quotes from a health insurance expert

It’s also better to get a range of private health insurance quotes from an expert or specialist, ideally who has a broad panel of insurance partners. Getting several quotes from a panel of insurers can also help you to understand what options you have.

Is it worth having private health insurance?

The answer to this question is actually down to you and your own attitude towards health insurance and private healthcare. It’s true to say that most consumers are happy to not pay for private health insurance and just accept the treatment provided by the NHS.

If you don’t feel comfortable with the NHS and you can afford private health insurance then you should certainly consider it as an option.

Historically, health insurance has been seen as a policy for high income families or an employee benefit. This behaviour has changed recently, and especially following the problems people have experienced with NHS treatments with ever increasing waiting lists.

Top reasons people are looking for private health insurance:

  • Longer NHS waiting times
  • Treatments unavailable on the NHS (e.g. certain cancer treatments)
  • Prefer private hospital treatment
  • Diagnosis issues
  • GP appointments (availability)
  • Children’s treatments
  • Alternative therapies

Is private health insurance better than NHS treatment?

There are several major advantages for having private health insurance in addition to the services provided by the NHS. You should also remember that private health insurance is designed to be used as well as the NHS and not to fully replace it.

NHS logo

About the NHS

The NHS is world renowned for providing free medical treatments to people in the United Kingdom, and outstanding care. It is also common knowledge that the NHS is more stretched than we have ever had in the past which is getting more difficult to resolve.

Cancer treatment is one of the biggest challenges in the NHS and one of the main reasons why people are turning to private health insurance for their own protection.

Whilst it is very true that the NHS provides an excellent service to us and our families, a private health insurance policy can give you so much more.

When you take out a private health insurance policy, you will be given access to:

  • Faster diagnosis (online GP’s)
  • Top UK medical specialists and practitioners
  • Leading private hospital facilities
  • Virtual GP services (24/7 care)
  • The best outpatient care
  • Therapies and treatments not available on the NHS
  • Alternative therapies

Our Health Insurance Partners .

Getting private health insurance is becoming easier with new technology and quicker access to multiple health insurance quotes at the touch of a button.

You can now compare cheap private medical insurance quotes from the UK’s top insurers in minutes with iam|INSURED. We compare quotes from the BEST private health insurance companies to find you the health cover you need at the best price.

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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
iaminsured logo » guides

Health Insurance vs NHS - iam|INSURED

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)
iaminsured logo » guides

Best Private Health Insurance 2023 - iam|INSURED

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Our Mission: To provide easy access to fair pricing, affordable protection and the very best financial security to families and individuals. We are dedicated to offering comprehensive insurance solutions that safeguard the well-being of our policyholders. Guided by integrity, transparency, and a commitment to excellence, we strive to empower consumers and families to face the future with confidence. Our mission is not just about policies; it's about protecting dreams, ensuring legacies, and being a trusted partner on life's journey.

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