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Health Insurance for Pre-existing Conditions Guide 2024

Private health insurance has been designed to make using private health services simpler and far more cost-effective for you and your family. People with pre-existing medical conditions can buy private health insurance, and these policies will nicely complement any medical care that you currently receive from the NHS.

According to Statista, around 22% of Brits now pay for private health insurance, due to concerns about the availability and quality of NHS care. While it is true that health insurance will exclude any pre-existing or chronic medical conditions, there are still several areas where it can be extremely useful:

  • Provides a cheaper route to private care compared to paying the full bill yourself.
  • Will pay out for things like diagnostic tests and in-patient medical care.
  • Provides access to online GP services (usually 24/7).
  • Can also offer cover for your partner or children (and some insurers will have discounts for families and couples).
  • Can add on additional benefits like enhanced mental health or therapies cover.
  • Often includes extra lifestyle benefits for free such as gym discounts.

This comprehensive guide explains how private health insurance works and why it can be useful for people with pre-existing medical conditions. Our insurance experts have included example prices, as well as advice about how to find the best and cheapest health insurance quotes in 2024.

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60-Second Summary – Health Insurance for Pre-existing Conditions Guide 2024

Private health insurance (or ‘private medical insurance’) can make potentially expensive private medical care much more affordable and is often available for people with pre-existing conditions.

Private health insurance is becoming increasingly popular due to the recent struggles of the NHS. Here’s a quick summary of some of the key points when thinking about health insurance for pre-existing conditions.

  • Health insurance isn’t designed to replace the NHS, and no health insurance policy is designed to treat pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Your premiums won’t increase based on your medical history, which makes health insurance different to other insurance policies like life insurance.
  • Your policy won’t usually cover any health condition where you have had consultations, treatment, or experienced symptoms in the last 5 years.
  • You may be able to claim for treating pre-existing conditions in the future, if you remain treatment and symptom-free for a set time after buying your policy. This is usually 2 years but can vary depending on the insurance company.
  • You could consider taking out health insurance with full medical underwriting to help you save money and get more suitable cover.

Private health insurance is usually available for people with pre-existing conditions, but exclusions will be applied to your policy. You won’t normally be able to claim for treating any current conditions or conditions that require ongoing care (chronic conditions).

You might be able to claim for pre-existing conditions in the future, if you remain treatment and symptom-free for at least 2 or 5 years. It is still worth having health insurance if you have pre-existing conditions, as your policy will pay out to treat other medical issues. You will also be able to access additional health support, such as online GP services which are often available for your whole family.

What is a pre-existing condition for health insurance?

A health insurance company will consider any condition where you have been diagnosed, experienced symptoms, or received treatment as being ‘pre-existing’. Most of the time this will only apply to conditions from within the last 5 years, so you wouldn’t need to disclose conditions from before then.

This helpful video from Bupa explains more about how health insurance works for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Bupa By You health insurance | Understanding pre-existing conditions

Most people with pre-existing conditions can buy health insurance to protect themselves, and they can even add their children or partner to their policy as well. Pre-existing conditions won’t make health insurance more expensive either, so this isn’t something that you need to worry about.

You can decide how you would like insurance companies to deal with your pre-existing condition, depending on what works best for you.

If you choose full medical underwriting for your policy, you will be asked questions about your health and lifestyle, so that the insurer understands your medical history. This process can take longer as you would need to supply medical evidence from your GP.

Moratorium underwriting works differently, and you wouldn’t need to supply medical information until you needed to make a claim. You would be asked a handful of basic medical questions, and in some cases you might not be asked any.

You may find that full medical underwriting is cheaper, as any pre-existing conditions that you disclose will be excluded from claims. The insurance companies will usually adjust the price based on this to make things fair.

Key factors for health insurance for pre-existing conditions:

  • Have you experienced symptoms of any conditions within the last 5 years?
  • Have you been diagnosed with or received treatment for any conditions within the last 5 years?
  • Do you need cover only for yourself or your family or partner as well?
  • Are you an employer looking to buy health insurance for your employees?
  • Do you want to add any extra benefits to your policy?
  • How much can you afford to spend on your cover?

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Private health insurance won’t cover pre-existing conditions but does cover a range of other scenarios. You will be able to claim for treating new, short-term medical issues, such as back pain or conditions like strokes or heart attacks. Common benefits of health insurance that you can claim for include:

  • Consultations with a private doctor or specialist
  • Diagnostic tests or scans
  • In-patient or day-patient hospital treatment
  • Out-patient hospital treatment (some policies)
  • Staying in a private hospital room

Health insurance is designed to complement the services that are provided by the NHS, as well as provide cover for acute conditions. This means that health insurance for pre-existing conditions can be just as useful as it is for anyone else.

When you take out health insurance in the UK there will be several standard exclusions as well as some specific exclusions that may apply to each insurer. You should check the policy documents carefully for the terms & conditions that apply specifically to your policy.

Standard health insurance exclusions:

The policy exclusions that are included can vary between insurance companies, so they won’t always be the same.

Note: While treatment for chronic conditions isn’t normally covered, there can be exceptions to this (e.g. cancer treatment). Most chronic medical conditions will receive perfectly adequate care and treatment through the NHS for free.

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As time goes on there continues to be more innovation with health insurance for pre-existing conditions and we’re seeing more options coming to the market. Health insurance companies seem to have recognised that pre-existing conditions is an area that needs to be addressed and improved.

Top choice for health insurance for pre-existing conditions

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The Exeter health insurance

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

One of the market leaders with health insurance for pre-existing conditions is a company called The Exeter. This insurance company is well known for its flexible approach to underwriting, especially in the life insurance and income protection markets.

Health+ from The Exeter offers a unique approach to medical underwriting, with several options specifically for chronic medical conditions (e.g. diabetes).

One of the key benefits with Health+ from The Exeter is that it can offer cover for potential complications linked to pre-existing conditions. An example of this might be something like someone with diabetes and being able to claim for treatment for retinopathy in the future.

Several other insurance companies in the UK can work for customers with less serious medical conditions, so you should consider all your options carefully.

Health Insurance provider reviews

It is a common myth that health insurance will be more expensive for people with medical conditions. Based on our most recent research, the average cost of private health insurance is around £41.58 per month and any pre-existing conditions shouldn’t affect the price you pay.

The main things that will affect the price of your cover are your age, where you live (postcode), and your smoker status. Different types of policy will also vary in price (e.g. family or couples policies can cost more as they cover more people).

The examples below show real customers who contacted our experts for help with finding the best health insurance for pre-existing conditions. These examples aim to give you a rough idea of pricing, and your policy could cost more or less than these figures.

Case Study 1: Miss H.

Details of applicantAge: Miss H. is 27 years old (born in 1996)
Postcode: South Wales postcode
Medical condition details and informationCysts on her heart
No other medical conditions
Cover requirementsUnlimited out-patient cover
Unlimited therapies cover
Guided specialist hospital list
Monthly premiums (£s)£55.19 per month
Excess: £250
Moratorium underwriting

Case Study 2: Mr M.

Details of applicantAge: Mr M. is 44 years old (born in 1979)
Postcode: Northern Irish postcode
Medical condition details and informationAsthma
No other medical conditions
Cover requirements£500 out-patient cover
Unlimited out-patient diagnostic cover
Unlimited therapies cover
Guided specialist hospital list
Monthly premiums (£s)£46.85 per month
Excess: £100
Moratorium underwriting

Case Study 3: Mrs C.

Details of applicantAge: Mrs C. is 28 (born in 1995)
Postcode: Northern Irish postcode
Medical condition details and informationEczema
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Borderline Personality Disorder
Cover requirementsUnlimited out-patient cover
Unlimited therapies cover
Essential hospital list
Monthly premiums (£s)£54.41 per month
Excess: £0
Moratorium underwriting

How can I find cheaper health insurance for pre-existing conditions?

There are several main options when you’re looking for cheaper health insurance for pre-existing conditions to help reduce the cost which include things like:

  • Choosing full medical underwriting can equal lower premiums for the same level of cover.
  • Remove any benefits that you don’t need, which is often an option with flexible policies like health insurance.
  • Shop around to find the best and cheapest quotes on the market, as doing your research can make a massive difference to how much you pay.
  • Increase the amount of excess that you would pay when you need to claim.
  • Choose a guided hospital list, which is where the insurer gives you a suggested shortlist of specialists when you claim.
What is an acute medical condition?

An acute medical condition is generally defined as a medical problem which can be cured by medical treatment or surgery. These can be medical conditions such as heart attack, cancer, or stroke, as well as musculoskeletal issues such as back pain, joint problems or strains. Health insurance is generally designed to provide treatment for most acute medical conditions.

What is a chronic medical condition?

A chronic medical condition is usually defined by being incurable and therefore will last for the rest of your life. These types of conditions can range from mild symptoms with no limitations to daily living up to severe and significant disability.

Some of the most common chronic medical conditions include diabetes, hypertension (blood pressure), hyperthyroidism, epilepsy, asthma, Crohn’s disease, and Ulcerative Colitis. Health insurance is not designed to provide treatment for any of these medical conditions and you should seek advice from your GP if you have symptoms.

It’s important to shop around and do your research when you’re comparing health insurance either for yourself or for your family. There are several standard ways to compare health insurance premiums from all of the top insurers.

Some of the most common options when comparing health insurance premiums and options include:

Usually, the best way to compare health insurance for pre-existing conditions is to speak to an expert or specialist with specific experience in this area. This can be especially important if you are new to health insurance or have never applied for cover before.

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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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