How Much Is Private Health Insurance?

By Vicki Coleman

While undergoing private treatment you are likely to have hotel-like facilities and services which may include private accommodation, ensuite bathroom, TV and a greater choice of food. Sounds expensive, right? But it’s all relative.

It’s relative to the treatment you’re undergoing, the length or your stay in hospital and how much you’re paying in private health insurance premiums.

If you’re in for a week, recovering from a hip replacement, for example, you might consider the £1,000 spent on annual premiums to be good value. By going private for such a procedure, you’re likely to be seen quicker and therefore starting your recovery sooner.

Or, perhaps you’re struggling with your mental health which is causing you to be off work awaiting treatment on the NHS. At the time of writing, one in four mental health patients are being forced to wait more than 12 weeks to start treatment[1].

In the case of most private health insurance policies, you’ll be able to seek private treatment if you can’t get seen on the NHS within a couple of weeks.

How many people are going private?

It’s for these kinds of reasons that more people than ever are choosing to go private. Analysis by the BBC of data from the Private Healthcare Information Network has found that there were 69,000 self-funded treatments in the UK in the final three months of 2021 – which is the latest available data – representing a 39% rise on the same period before the pandemic[2].

This concurs with a separate survey commissioned by charity Engage Britain which found that one in 10 (10%) adults in the UK had turned to the private sector or independent healthcare in the 12 months to September 2022. Of those, almost two-thirds (63%) did so because they faced long delays or could not access treatment on the NHS[3].

Of those who went private in the last year, 46% selected at least one of the following when asked about the financial impact: “I had to go into debt”, “I had to cut back on my spending” or “I had to use savings that I was keeping for another purpose”.

Of course, if you’re paying for private health insurance, you don’t have to worry about finding the funds in your hour of need. As long as the condition and treatment are included in your policy, you’ll be covered.

What does private health insurance cover?

Different health insurance plans offer different benefits. Think about your needs, and choose a policy that offers the right cover for you.

Most policies include cover for:

●      Treatment in private hospitals

●      Private consultations

●      Physiotherapy for muscle, bone or joint conditions

●      Out-patient care such as scans, tests, x-rays and hospital appointments where you aren’t admitted

When considering the best health insurance policies, you need to think about what is important to you. For example, more comprehensive policies may give some of these additional benefits:

●      Mental health cover

●      NHS hospital cash benefit (payable if you have received treatment in an NHS hospital)

●      Parent accommodation

Meanwhile, most policies don’t cover:

●      Emergency treatment

●      Maternity care

●      Treatment for pre-existing conditions

●      Treatment for long term, or chronic conditions like arthritis or diabetes

How is private health insurance calculated?

The cover choices you make – along with your personal circumstances i.e. your age, where you live and if you’re a smoker – will affect the price of your health insurance policy.

When choosing health insurance, it’s important you select a policy that suits your needs and budget. Getting the right cover can be quite complicated with seemingly endless policy options to pick from. For example, some companies offer a cheaper option if you’re happy to be diagnosed by the NHS or pay for some treatments privately.

This is why it’s important to seek the advice of an expert who will be able to guide you on your choices. The last thing you want is to find your policy doesn’t cover you at the very moment you need it.

How can you bring down the price of private health insurance?

As you go about adapting your cover to keep the cost down, it’s worth keeping the following in mind:

1.       Increase your excess – you’ll be required to pay an excess amount towards the cost of your treatment. Agreeing to a larger excess can reduce the cost of your monthly payments.

2.       Maintain a healthy lifestyle – many providers offer lower health insurance premiums if you show a commitment to staying healthy i.e. by not smoking.

3.       Opt out of optional extras – most policies offer optional extras like dental cover, eyecare cover, or access to alternative medicines. If these are not required when taking out your policy, you might want to save some money by omitting them from your cover.

4.       Reduce your outpatient care limits – most health insurance policies limit the amount you can claim for outpatient care, such as scans or physiotherapy. Selecting a lower limit can reduce the cost of your policy.

5.       Look out for multi-person discounts – some providers offer discounts for couples or family health insurance.

There’s clearly a balance to be struck between comprehensive and affordable cover. As you don’t have a crystal ball and can’t see into the future, the best advice is to be guided by your budget and current health needs.

Generate some quotes

The best way of seeing what your budget will stretch to is to generate some private health insurance quotes via QuoteSearch.

Here at QuoteSearch, our cutting-edge technology compares prices and cover directly from leading providers. We don’t have any favourite suppliers – the quotes that you see are comprehensive and competitive.

So, when assessing your options in these tumultuous times, feel free to ask us to build out a policy that suits you and your budget.

To compare your free health insurance quotes from leading providers, click here.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/oct/10/nhs-mental-health-patients-wait-times#:\~:text=The Royal College of Psychiatrists said its research found 43,to A%26E or dial 999.

[2] https://www.healthwatch.co.uk/response/2022-07-22/are-nhs-waiting-times-pushing-more-people-go-private

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/sep/11/millions-uk-patients-forced-private-nhs-waiting-lists