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Martin Lewis Private Health Insurance review 2023

Most of us are familiar with Martin Lewis and the work that he does to help UK consumers to get the most for their money. You may also have used which is the website that he started in 2003 to provide online support to British families.

You will be able to read various product reviews from Martin Lewis and his team of financial journalists on In this section we look at the Martin Lewis Private Health Insurance review and share some views on what they say.

Martin Lewis always offers a frank and honest view on financial services products and especially insurance products. Martin Lewis private health insurance review is no exception to this and you’ll read some fairly strong opinions about this product.

A picture of a stopwatch

60-Second Summary – Martin Lewis Private Health Insurance review 2023

Martin Lewis Health Insurance guides are often a helpful starting point when considering buying a new policy or renewing an existing one. Health insurance can be a bit confusing to understand, which is why Martin Lewis would suggest speaking to an expert for the right advice.

  • One of Martin Lewis’ key comments about health insurance is “It’s a lifestyle choice and it ain’t cheap” – Health insurance won’t be right for everyone, but can be very useful and help you save money overall if you can afford it.
  • Private health insurance is designed to complement NHS care, not replace it entirely. You can use both NHS and private services if you have health insurance, depending on what you need treatment for (e.g. health insurance won’t usually cover emergency treatment).
  • You can save money on private health insurance in quick and easy ways like paying higher excess for claims, reducing your amount of cover or removing benefits you don’t need.
  • There are some exclusions to be aware of with private health insurance, the main one being that most health insurance policies won’t cover the treatment of chronic or pre-existing medical conditions. You should check the terms and conditions of your policy carefully, so you know exactly where you stand if you needed to claim.

About Martin Lewis

The vast majority of households in the UK will have seen or heard about Martin Lewis, usually from his ITV finance programme ‘The Martin Lewis Money Show’ with Angellica Bell. He is often a guest on other ITV shows such as This Morning and Good Morning Britain talking about financial products such as mortgages and insurance.

Martin Lewis’ Guide to Life Insurance – How Much? | This Morning

Martin Lewis CBE is most famous for his numerous financial campaigns and support that he has provided over the past two decades. One of his most renowned and successful of those campaigns was against mis-selling of Payment Protection Insurance (PPI claims).

He successfully created financial journalism being a trusted source of information for consumers. In 2008 Martin Lewis founded the MSE Charity, which grants charity funds to UK non profit organisations who help to provide financial education. Martin Lewis is also the executive chair and founder of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute. This was founded in 2016 to help break the link between financial difficulties and mental health issues.

Martin Lewis also received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2014 for services to consumer rights and his charitable contributions. In 2022 he posted on Twitter “they’re taking my OBE off me! Yep, I got a letter saying now I have been upgraded to a CBE”.

In early 2022 his OBE was upgraded to CBE for services to consumer rights and broadcasting.

The Martin Lewis private health insurance review on isn’t quite as damning as some of his other pages about insurance products such as:

A list displaying the services available on

Ultimately, it boils down to price and personal preference. As it clearly suggests in the Martin Lewis private health insurance review section, the services provided by the NHS are comprehensive. And the NHS is a free service ‘regardless of your ability to pay’.

It is true that private health insurance can be expensive and especially if you’re older or a smoker.

If you do decide to consider private treatment outside of the NHS, it can be extremely expensive. Private health insurance is designed to help people to gain access to otherwise unaffordable treatments and avoid lengthy NHS waiting lists.

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by Elizabeth Turner-Long - 9th August 2023

Martin Lewis 1-min read private health insurance

It’s important to make sure that you do your research whenever you’re thinking about any major financial decision, and especially one that impacts your family.

Private health insurance plans can be confusing because of the number of options and different levels of cover that are available.

1) Use price comparison sites

It is suggested on the Martin Lewis private health insurance guide to look at price comparison sites to save £100s.

We don’t necessarily agree that this is the best option for everyone and it can lead to taking out the wrong cover, or opting for a cheaper policy that might not be adequate.

Another key point here is the clear financial link between and Money Saving Expert which are essentially the same company. It is worth checking out other options to make sure that you’re getting the best policy and the cheapest private health insurance.

Note: Be careful when using comparison sites for private health insurance, especially if you’re not familiar with the different options that are available.

2) Use a private health insurance broker

Using a private health insurance broker… there is a suggestion that a broker can recommend a policy if you need advice. This is absolutely true and applies for anyone who doesn’t properly understand how health insurance works.

Note: Private health insurance brokers do not usually charge a fee, so this isn’t a normal practice at all.


Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries

The AMII is a trade association that can help consumers to access a qualified and experienced health insurance broker.

Members of the AMII are considered to be trusted medical insurance experts who help consumers to get the best products at the right price.

Telephone – 07455 269075

Address – PO Box 299, Petersfield, GU32 9GY

Even though health insurance or private medical insurance (PMI) might seem quite simple, it can be quite confusing, especially if you’re new to it.

One of the most common misconceptions about private health insurance is that it is designed to replace NHS treatment. The reality is that it is very much designed to complement NHS medical care and services to help with quicker diagnosis and additional private services for faster recovery times.

The top reason for consumers looking to private health insurance in recent times are the issues with cancer treatment and diagnosis on the NHS. It was heavily publicised throughout and after Covid that the National Health Service was struggling to meet demand with cancer patients.

NHS cancer waiting time targets

You should not have to wait for more than two weeks to see a cancer specialist where your GP suspects appearance of cancer and gives an urgent referral.

Where cancer has been diagnosed or confirmed, your maximum waiting time should be 31 days from the decision being made to begin treatment.

More information – NHS – Cancer waiting times

A major element of private health insurance is the levels of cancer treatment that is available, medications and outpatient care.

What is and isn’t covered by private health insurance?

The most important thing to remember about private health insurance cover is that it is mainly designed to treat acute conditions. These are a group of conditions or diseases that happen once and ‘can be treated or cured’.

There is another group of medical conditions called chronic illnesses, which are life-long and have no known cure. Private health insurance is not designed to cover the treatment of chronic medical conditions, although modern policies are useful for these types of conditions in many ways.

Top 5 acute medical conditions

Note: Private health insurance can provide diagnosis, treatment, and care for each of these medical conditions, depending on which level of cover you have.

Top 5 chronic medical conditions

Note: It is usually that private health insurance will help with things like diagnosis of these conditions and can provide cover for certain elements of treatment or therapy. The majority of the treatment and medications for chronic conditions will be provided by the NHS.

Is private health insurance different to critical illness insurance?

One of the notes that you’ll see on the Martin Lewis private health insurance review is a quick note about private health insurance vs critical illness insurance. This is an important point and something that we’re keen to explain.

Critical illness insurance pays out a lump sum on diagnosis of a serious illness such as cancer, heart attack, stroke, MS, loss of limbs, and other life-threatening conditions. Generally an illness covered by this type of policy would be far more serious and would have far reaching effect on your lifestyle or income.

Should I get private health insurance Martin Lewis?

This is a great question and something that everyone should ask themselves when considering private health insurance. It’s true that this type of cover is not for everyone and it can be expensive if you’re not in a position to be able to afford the premiums.

Three top questions to ask yourself from private health insurance review which are very relevant.

1) Are you comfortable and happy with the NHS to get what you need?

Some people are happy with the levels of care and treatments that are usually provided by the NHS, and this is absolutely fine for most people in the UK.

There are some people however, that would prefer to have peace of mind that they’ve got extra cover if anything happened to them or their family. This is typical for any insurance policy in this category, and private health insurance is designed to give you and your loved ones extra care if needed.

In the majority of circumstances, the treatment and care provided by the NHS is perfectly adequate for most people. Generally, private health insurance is considered to be a luxury item but it is becoming more mainstream, especially with longer waiting times on the NHS and some treatments being removed.

2) Would you consider self-insuring?

There is also the option of taking your own private treatment and paying the bill yourself at the end of it. This can be an option for some and especially if the condition is less serious or only requires minimal treatments.

You should be very wary if you decide to go down this route however, more serious conditions can be extremely expensive! A small procedure such as cataract surgery on an eye will usually cost around £3,000 which can seem quite reasonable.

More invasive treatment, such as hip or knee replacements, might run in to tens of thousands of pounds. It is not unusual for some higher level private treatments or surgeries to cost over £100,000.

It is also an option to have a partial amount of private health insurance as well as an element of self-insurance. This is where you would have a health insurance policy with a high excess (e.g. £1,000+) where you would pay for the first part of treatment potentially through your excess.

More about private health insurance excess

3) Are you covered by your work or your employer?

It is common for certain jobs or employment sectors to have a private health insurance benefit as part of their package. This can be a great benefit for some people, but there are potential issues with this to be aware of.

1.  Cover through your employer will usually be far cheaper than a personal private health insurance policy

2.  Your cover will be arranged for you and often would be through one of the major health insurance brands

3.  Renewals and policy administration is all dealt with for you

4.  Policies can also include your family or you can opt to add them for an additional fee

5.  No claims discounts and excess amounts won’t usually apply for you personally
1.  If you leave your employer then you won’t be covered

2.  Cover is inflexible so you won’t have the choice of different options, benefits, or insurance providers

3.  Might not be able to include partners or children

4.  Will usually have a benefit in kind element so you will pay tax on your earnings for this benefit

5.  Fewer options than a personal private health insurance policy

Martin Lewis health insurance need to knows

One of the best bits about this private health insurance review is the need-to-knows section which provides some simple high level points that you should think about.

1) Private medical insurance is flexible and can be tailored to suit you

The basic levels of cover with most private health insurance policies will be sufficient for only the minimum requirements. You can add benefits to the core coverage that will give you the cover that you are looking for.

Ultimately, this means that you shouldn’t be paying extra for benefits that you don’t need or aren’t useful for you.

You can also include optional extras to help reduce the cost of your cover such as the ‘6 week option’. This means that your cover will only kick-in after a 6 week period where you can attempt to get your issue sorted on the NHS.

Optional benefits:

  • In-patient limits
  • Out-patient limits
  • Excess levels (higher excess = lower premiums)
  • Extended Cancer Care
  • Therapies cover
  • Dental cover
  • Travel insurance
  • Mental health cover

Each insurer will have its own options and core cover will vary from one insurance provider to another. It’s worth speaking to a qualified private health insurance expert if you need further guidance or advice about the best options for you.

2) Higher excess will help to reduce your private health insurance premiums, but it will cost more if you need to claim

Excess with private health insurance works the same as most other types of general insurance policies (e.g. car insurance or house insurance). If you choose a higher excess then your premiums will reduce by a relative amount to the levels of excess chosen.

This can be a good way to make the actual cover more affordable as long as you’re happy to pay the chosen excess amount. Usual excess amounts vary from £100 up to as much as £5,000 which is usually upon request.

You should consider what you’ll be claiming for and what type of treatment you want to receive from your private health insurance policy. This would then give you the amount of excess that might be reasonable for you and your family or your business.

Effectively you’ll always be paying for a proportion of the treatment with the excess that you pay on each claim.

There are also two main types of excess for private health insurance and one is cheaper than the other. You can reduce your premiums by selecting ‘excess per year’ instead of ‘excess per claim’.

  • Excess per claim means that you would only ever pay one excess for any claim, regardless of the length of time to treat that condition.
  • Excess per year means that you pay an excess for the policy year that you claim and so if treatment runs in to the following year, then you would pay another excess for that year.

There is another option that is available through WPA which is called ‘shared responsibility’ which is a percentage of claim rather than a fixed amount. This option is only available on a limited number of WPA policies (e.g. Premier and Elite).

3) Exclusions and limits apply to private health insurance so check your documents carefully

The most common exclusion for private health insurance is ‘pre-existing medical conditions or health problems’. This usually applies to anything where you have experienced issues within the last 3 years of taking out or renewing a policy.

Pre-existing conditions

Definition: Anything where you have received treatment, experienced symptoms, had any consultations or taken medication to treat.

Common policy exclusions with private health insurance

  • Cosmetic surgery (unless related to a medical treatment)
  • Pregnancy
  • Self-harm
  • Professional sports
  • Armed forces
  • Dangerous activities
  • Dental treatment

These are not exclusive and might not apply to every insurer and private health insurance policy. You should always check the Terms & Conditions of your cover carefully before you accept any offer of terms.

Other potential limitations for private health insurance

  • Hospitals lists and private treatment facilities are usually outlined on the details for your policy. If you choose to select a particular facility yourself without checking with your insurer first, then your claim might not be paid.
  • Consultants and specialists for a particular treatment or procedure might not be covered on your policy. Each provider has an approved list of specialists which is fairly similar to a car insurance company having an approved list of garages for example.

If you don’t consult with your insurer before going through a treatment or consultation then you run the risk of that claim not being paid.

4) Claims systems and processes will vary from one insurer to another

Each insurance provider has its own private health insurance claims process and this must be followed to have a valid claim. If you don’t follow the correct procedure then you might risk any claim being refused and have to pay for treatment yourself.

Typical private health insurance claims process

  • Contact your GP to be referred for treatment / some insurers now provide this service via an app or online GP
  • Submit a claim form with your insurer providing your policy details and details about the medical problem(s)
  • Await confirmation that your claim has been approved
  • Receive your referral details including the hospital you will be referred to and the specialist or consultant you will be dealing with*
  • Make sure that you use the appropriate underwriting method

Note: Failure to follow the correct procedure could result in claims being refused and excluded in the future.

There are two main types of underwriting methods that you can use when you apply for private health insurance, which are ‘moratorium’ and ‘full medical’ underwriting.

Types of health insurance underwriting

Moratorium underwriting is by far the quickest and easiest method when applying for private health insurance, purely because it asks no medical questions and no evidence is required. This is also known as automated underwriting and will exclude anything where you have received treatment or had symptoms in the past 3 years before applying.

Full medical underwriting is often used for people who have a chronic pre-existing medical condition that would always be excluded regardless of your chosen
underwriting method. This can be more beneficial for someone with a chronic condition as any exclusions would be factored in the pricing and generally premiums would be more fair or reasonable for them.

It’s worth speaking to a health insurance expert if you need more information about this and to understand what the most suitable option for you might be.

6) Check out renewal options from other insurers for ‘switch and save’ deals… be very CAREFUL if you’ve had treatment though

Most private health insurance providers offer incentives for customers who are switching from another insurer. This is because health insurance is so competitive and insurance providers are very keen to attract new customers from other companies.

You can often save on the cost of your renewal price by looking at alternative insurance providers. Some companies offer schemes like a ‘10% switch and save’ discount when customers move from other insurers.

How to complain about your private health insurance

If you’ve got an issue with your health insurance policy then you should speak to your provider in the first instance. It is a regulatory requirement for insurance providers to have a full complaints procedure should you have an issue or problem.

Potential complaints about private health insurance policies:

  • Claims procedures or unpaid claims
  • Payment problems or direct debit issues
  • Policy schedule issues (e.g. changes to Terms & Conditions)
  • Unfair charges or fees

Note: You should always speak to your insurance provider first to give them a chance to satisfy your complaint before you referring to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Financial Ombudsman Service Logo

Making a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is an impartial and free service for financial services customers in the UK. This service can be used to settle any disputes between life insurance companies and their customers in the United Kingdom. If they feel that you have suffered any financial loss as a result of your life insurance policy, then they may rule for compensation to be awarded.

Telephone – 0800 023 4567 (or 0300 123 9123)

Telephone (outside the UK) – 0207 964 0500

One of the key points to consider when you’re thinking about buying private health insurance is that it can be confusing, especially if you’ve never done it before. The Martin Lewis private health insurance review suggests using price comparison sites to benchmark prices.

Price comparison sites can be useful but it’s not always the best options for more complicated personal protection policies, like life insurance, income protection, and health insurance.

The most important point when comparing the costs of private health insurance is to get quotes from several insurance companies or a specialist broker with a panel of insurers.

Getting specialist private health insurance advice

You can speak to one of our team of qualified health insurance experts to find out which options are available to you and how much you could save.

We’ll compare prices from our extensive panel of private health insurance products and leading insurance partners to find the best options for you and your family. It is also usually better for someone with pre-existing medical conditions or other specific requirements to get proper advice when buying private health insurance.

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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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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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