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How to buy cheap Health Insurance

Private health insurance gives you affordable access to some of the best private care, medical specialists and treatments in the world. Finding cheap health insurance can be difficult to find because there are so many different insurers and options to choose from.

Currently NHS waiting times mean that private health insurance is an important option for consumers in the UK. More people than ever are getting quotes for private health insurance to protect them and their families health.

Unfortunately, many people are put off looking for private health insurance because they think it will be too expensive. In this guide we’ll look at ways to help make health insurance more affordable for you and save you money on health cover.

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60-Second Summary – How to buy cheap health insurance

Private health insurance is getting more popular and mainstream with UK consumers to avoid risks of long NHS waiting times and ensure that you receive treatment from top private medical specialists.

  • Private health insurance works by helping to cover the cost of private medical treatment. These policies can give you peace of mind that you will receive the best care when experiencing health issues.
  • Health insurance policies are usually fairly flexible too, allowing you to add optional extras and tailor the cover to suit you.
  • Finding cheap health insurance can be a lot easier than you might think and there are often options available to most households. Medical insurance is getting more accessible and affordable for consumers thanks to constant improvements and innovations.

How do I find cheap health insurance?

There are some simple ways to find health insurance to suit any budget and here are our TOP 5 tips to getting cheap health insurance:

  1. Shop around to get the best quotes and find the cover that suits your needs or budget.
  2. Increasing your excess will help to reduce your monthly premiums as long as you can afford the payments if you need to claim.
  3. Look for discounts and rewards that can help to significantly offset the cost of health insurance.
  4. Select the right options can help to reduce your monthly premiums by not taking out benefits that you won’t use or don’t need.
  5. 6 week waiting period plans that only kick in after the NHS has tried to resolve the problem.

What are the benefits of private health insurance?

Private health insurance or medical insurance is an affordable way to get private medical treatment and avoid NHS waiting times. You can choose from a number of options to create the cover that you need at an affordable price.

A health insurance policy can range from core cover which is the basic plan, all the way up to comprehensive full private medical insurance. Your policy can be adapted to suit most budgets and your needs.

The TOP 10 benefits of health insurance:

  1. Avoid NHS waiting lists
  2. Faster diagnosis
  3. Reduce health risks
  4. Cancer treatments
  5. Improve health
  6. Protect your family
  7. Top specialists & consultants
  8. Own private room
  9. Alternative therapies
  10. Faster recovery

More and more consumers are opting for health insurance to protect themselves and their families health. Previously, many have seen this type of cover as unaffordable and unnecessary because of what they get on the NHS for free.

How to get cheap health insurance

One of the biggest obstacles when people have considered health insurance historically has been the cost. Premiums for health insurance have been traditionally unaffordable for many households which has prevented people for buying these insurance policies.

In this section we’ll look at several ways to help you to get cheap health insurance by reducing your monthly premiums or offsetting the cost.

Modern private health insurance is far more flexible than previous version of these policies and allows policyholders to adapt the cover to suit needs and budgets. Many consumers are now considering their options far more seriously and comparing quotes to see what it costs.

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How do much do prices vary for health insurance?

One of the biggest variables in comparing cheap health insurance is making sure that you get multiple quotes from different insurers.

As with any other type of general or personal insurance policy, premiums range dramatically between different health insurance companies. You will often find that you can get the same or similar cover for much less by shopping around to compare insurance providers. It’s a good idea to do some research to give you an idea of how much you can expect to pay.

This is simply because certain insurers are better than others for different types of people with different circumstances. For example, some insurers offer lower rates for younger people than others, while others might be cheaper for smokers health insurance.

Aviva logo

Aviva Health Insurance

TrustPilot score: 4.0/5.0 Stars
Defaqto rating: 5 Stars

Aviva Health Insurance works best for…

  • Younger customers
  • Smokers
  • Families
AXA logo

AXA Health Insurance

TrustPilot score: 4.1/5.0 Stars
Defaqto rating: 5 Stars

AXA Health Insurance works best for…

AXA Health is a popular option for younger health insurance applicants.

AXA Health offers a range of great benefits and fair pricing for young customers.

Bupa logo

Bupa Health Insurance

TrustPilot score: 4.0/5.0 Stars
Defaqto rating: 5 Stars

Bupa Health Insurance works best for…

Bupa is often the best option for older health insurance applicants.

Bupa offers a range of great policy benefits and fair pricing for older customers.

The Exeter logo

The Exeter Health Insurance

TrustPilot score: 4.4/5.0 Stars
Defaqto rating: 5 Stars

The Exeter Health Insurance works best for…

  • Older customers
  • Younger customers
  • Smokers
  • Families
  • Pre-existing medical conditions
Vitality logo

Vitality Health Insurance

TrustPilot score: 3.9/5.0 Stars
Defaqto rating: 5 Stars

Vitality Health Insurance works best for…

  • Younger customers
  • Smokers
  • Families
  • Pre-existing medical conditions
WPA logo

WPA Health Insurance

TrustPilot score: 4.7/5.0 Stars
Defaqto rating: 5 Stars

WPA Health Insurance works best for…

WPA is known to be a good option for health insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

They also have a wide range of policy options available suitable for people with no medical conditions.

Save on health insurance with discounts and rewards

In recent years, innovative insurance providers like Vitality Health have introduced rewards programmes to help offset the cost of health insurance.

These schemes use a number of health based rewards and retail discounts to incentivise new customers. These types of health insurance policies have helped to make cover more affordable to a whole new group of consumers.

Health insurance rewards from Vitality make these policies far more affordable to the general population. They also help to incentivise policyholders with various health goals which improves the health of its customers.

Vitality health insurance rewards

  • Wearable devices – claim discounts of up to 50% on health tracking devices such as Apple Watch, Garmin, and Polar
  • Gym discounts – partners include up to 50% off Nuffield Health, Pure Gyms, and Virgin Active
  • Cinema tickets – Vitality also offers FREE cinema tickets every month for policyholders with Vue and Odeon (great benefit for family plans with kids)
  • Coffee and Food – Caffé Nero offers a FREE handmade drink every week to policyholders as well as up to 40% off shopping at Waitrose and Mindful Chef discounts
  • Travel and Holidays – members can claim up to 25% off holidays and hotel stays with Expedia and Mr & Mrs Smith

Many health insurance policyholders are able to significantly reduce the overall impact of the cost of cover with these discounts and rewards. You can usually save hundreds of pounds every year with these and other extremely useful benefits.

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There are several main options that can also help you to save significant amounts on your monthly health insurance premiums. You can follow these simple steps to help you reduce the monthly cost of private health insurance.

Choose a higher excess

Your excess is directly linked to the cost of your health insurance which is a similar arrangement to car insurance and house insurance. If you choose a higher excess, then your health cover premiums will naturally reduce.

Health insurance excess options can vary from as little as ‘zero excess’ and can range all the way up to £5,000 with some insurers. You should always make sure that your excess is affordable should you need to make a claim.

Look for health insurance offers and discounts

Often you will find that health insurance providers will offer incentives and discounts for new customers and for switch policies. This usually comes in either a discount (e.g. 10% off) or sometimes they might offer a free period (e.g. first 2 months free).

If there are no discounts available when you apply for health insurance then it’s always worth asking just in case. You’ll usually be able to get some kind of discount by simply asking the question and seeing what they offer.

There are also certain discounts available for professional groups and sectors, such as education and medical services. Some insurers have agreements in place with certain trade associations as well, such as the IoD (Institute of Directors).

Families and couples discounts

Several of the top health insurance providers offer some very good discounts for family and joint policies (i.e. couples). It’s often possible to save around 10% per person on average for a joint or family health insurance policy.

Couples policies are usually based on two people living in the same household, so it’s not just for married people. This means that you can apply for a joint health insurance policy as long as you have the same home address.

Also, it is common for families to want to protect everyone in the household, including children and dependents. Most policies will cover children up to age 18 or up to age 21 if they stay in full time education.

Note: One of the big exceptions to this is Freedom Health Insurance who offers free cover for children up to age 25, even if they don’t live with you.

Benefits and rewards health insurance

As we’ve mentioned above, there are now several health insurance policies offering discounts and rewards to help offset the cost of cover. Vitality Health were the innovators in this space and still lead the way with an impressive range of benefits.

Other health insurance providers have started to join the party offering similar rewards such as gym discounts and retail partners.

If you use these benefits properly and engage in the healthy living programmes, you can save hundreds of £’s every year. These policies offer significant savings on every day outgoings, such as:

  • Food shopping
  • Cinema tickets
  • Gym memberships
  • Amazon Prime
  • Cashback credit cards
  • Wearable devices
  • Food and coffee
  • Holidays

Used properly, you can save more in rewards than the actual cost of the health insurance every month.

Treatment-only policies

A treatment only health insurance policy is essentially a basic cover which is a low cost option. These types of policies are usually available through most of the top health insurance providers. They are also known as core cover options which is fundamentally a policy with no additional benefits added.

Generally, treatment only policies will provide cover for impatient care day patient treatment and some cancer treatments. This means that you won’t be able to use your health insurance for consultations or to pay for diagnostic tests or scans. Instead, the NHS will provide all of the diagnosis and initial tests, then your health insurance would cover any hospital treatment or surgery.

The reason why treatment only policies are cheaper is because the policy holder is less likely to claim. These policies tend to be used as an add on to any NHS treatment and diagnosis.

Top treatment only health insurance providers

Aviva logo

Aviva Health Insurance

Defaqto rating: 5 Stars

Core cover with Aviva offers one of the most comprehensive range of benefits, which includes inpatient treatment, cancer care, and mental health treatments. Another key benefit to Aviva Health Insurance Core Cover is Outpatient treatment which includes diagnostics, consultations, and some referral treatments (including Osteopathy, Chiropractors, and Physiotherapy).

Aviva Health also offers a range of different hospital lists and a guided option to reduce costs. There are also cashback rewards when giving birth and for overnight stays in NHS hospitals.

Other Aviva Health insurance benefits

  • Member discounts scheme
  • Online GP service
  • Mental Health helpline
The Exeter logo

The Exeter Health Insurance

Defaqto rating: 5 Stars

The Exeter has an extremely comprehensive Core Cover option with its Health+ products. These benefits include Unlimited inpatient and day patient treatment, as well as comprehensive cancer cover and post-surgical outpatient care.

Core cover also includes a private ambulance for transport to and from hospital if required, private nurse care, plus physiotherapy for up to 3 months after you leave hospital.

Other Exeter Health+ benefits

  • Healthwise app (online consultations and remote GP appointments)
  • NHS cashback
  • Member discount scheme
Vitality logo

Vitality Health Insurance

Defaqto rating: 5 Stars

Core cover from Vitality Health is one of the cheapest health insurance policies that is available generally. The standard plan includes inpatient and day patient treatments and a comprehensive ‘advanced cancer cover’. There are also other benefits such as cashback and healthy rewards that are included with core policies.

There are also various hospital lists and a guided options called ‘consultant select’ that can reduce premiums. You can also change your excess amount and excess type to reduce the monthly costs.

Other Vitality Health benefits

  • Market leading discounts and rewards scheme
  • Online GP service
  • Health app
  • Cashback benefits
  • Discounted health screenings
AXA logo

AXA Health Insurance

Defaqto rating: 5 Stars

AXA Health offers one of the most flexible treatment only policies with a Core Cover that offers everything you would need for this level of cover. Policyholders will benefit from inpatient and cancer cover, as well as a cashback benefit for overnight NHS stays.

Cancer cover with AXA health is only available if you haven’t had cancer in the past which for most consumers shouldn’t be a problem. If you have been diagnosed with cancer previously they still offer Cancer Support on the NHS that doesn’t pay for treatment, but it can provide cancer drugs for some policyholders.

Over AXA health benefits

  • Online GP service
  • Children’s benefits including speech therapy
  • Health app
Bupa logo

Bupa Health Insurance

Defaqto rating: 5 Stars

Bupa offers a core cover option called treatment and care which offers impatient and outpatient treatment following NHS diagnosis. Benefits with Bupa treatment and care policy include surgery, mental health support and therapies for outpatients including physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment.

Once you’ve been diagnosed by the NHS this cover will pay out for follow up appointments, scans and tests. You can also choose from 3 different levels of cancer cover, ranging from none to fully comprehensive.

Other Bupa Health benefits

  • Medical advice helpline
  • Cash back options
  • Private ambulance service
  • Parents hospital accommodation payments

Include six-week waiting plan

Another option that can be added to reduce the cost of health insurance is 6 week waiting. This gives the opportunity for the NHS to provide a solution and cure within six weeks from diagnosis, before your health cover kicks in.

This can be a very useful option for treatments which have extremely long waiting times on the NHS, such as knee or hip replacements. If your GP diagnosis a problem with a waiting time of more than six weeks then your health insurance would replace any further treatment on the NHS.

If however, you experience a serious medical problem such as a heart attack that requires immediate care then this will be treated on the NHS. This would usually mean anything that requires a visit to A&E would be excluded from health insurance under a six week plan.

Consultant select options

Private health insurance gives you access to a wide range of private hospital facilities around the country. Consultant select option means that your health insurance provider would choose its own consultant or private hospital for your treatment.

This option can actually be beneficial for some people who don’t necessarily have a preferred consultant or specialist. Some people however, may have their own preferences when it comes to certain treatments and procedures.

Why is consultant select cheaper?

Health insurance providers will have their own list of specialists and consultants that they prefer to use.

These will usually be specialists that charge less for certain treatments and will ultimately reduce the cost of the claim. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it can mean that you’ll be referred to a consultant who has experience in your field.

What are the benefits of consultant select?

The key benefit consultant select is simply the cost and it can reduce your monthly premiums by as much as 20%. This then can allow you to select more options and have more comprehensive health insurance for your budget.

You might also be referred to a consultant or specialist that you weren’t aware of who may provide better drugs and treatment for your condition.

Look for flexible health insurance options

There are some private health insurance providers who offer far more flexibility in the plan options than others. It’s worth looking for a private health insurance plan that can be adapted to suit you. Choosing the right plan to better suit your needs can help you to save every month.

Certain health insurance providers may automatically include options that you don’t need which can increase the costs unnecessarily. Alternatively, you might be able to find a more flexible option that gives you the cover that you need for less.

Compare cheap health insurance

The best way to find the cheapest health insurance that suits your needs is to speak to a private health insurance experts. Comparing health insurance cover and premiums from several of the top insurance providers is much quicker and easier this way.

Our team of private health insurance experts will tailor your quotes to suit your needs find you the cheapest health insurance options. We will search for cover from our panel of the leading health insurance providers to find the best and cheapest cover for you and your family.

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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)
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Best Private Health Insurance 2023 - iam|INSURED

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