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Aviva Logo Vitality LogoAXA PPP Healthcare LogoBupa LogoThe Exeter Logo
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What is private health insurance?

Private health insurance, often called private medical insurance (PMI), gives you access to the UK’s private healthcare providers and hospitals, ensuring you have fast treatment of the highest standard should you ever need it.
Benefits of Private Health Insurance

What are the benefits of health insurance?

The benefits of private medical insurance are numerous, but it should be remembered that it always provides a supplementary service to that of the NHS, not a replacement.

Main benefits of private medical insurance:

  • White tick
    Avoid potential delays on NHS waiting lists and receive treatment at a time that suits you.
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    Get more choice over where your treatment takes place and the specialist that treats you.
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    Access the latest treatments and drugs, even those not yet available on the NHS.
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    Have a private room during your hospital stay and more flexibility over visitor hours.
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What does private health insurance cover?

All private health insurance policies will cover the costs relating to treating acute conditions where an overnight hospital stay is required (Inpatient). Chronic conditions, meaning those which aren’t curable, won’t be covered and only in more comprehensive policies will outpatient treatment and diagnosis be included.
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What is an acute medical condition?

Each insurer will define an acute condition slightly differently, but broadly speaking it means an illness which can be cured through medical intervention.

What is a chronic medical condition?

A chronic condition is defined as one which cannot be cured and will probably require management, as opposed to treatment. Two examples are diabetes and asthma, both of which would be excluded from a policy.

Inpatient treatment

Inpatient treatment, meaning that where an overnight stay is required, forms the foundations of all health insurance policies, even the most basic. While treatment and a stay in a private hospital will be covered by an inpatient-only policy, it’s important to point out that all of the diagnostics and testing leading to the treatment would need to take place through the NHS, which could result in delays to your ultimate treatment.

Outpatient diagnosis and treatment

Prior to receiving treatment for your condition, you will inevitably go through one or multiple consultations and tests before receiving a diagnosis. If you would like these to take place privately, you will need outpatient cover, which is typically included in more comprehensive policies. Bear in mind though, whether you do or don’t have outpatient cover, you always start with a visit to your NHS GP.

Cancer cover

Private health insurance gives you access to the newest cancer treatments, procedures and drugs, many of which aren’t currently available on the NHS.

Benefits of private cancer care:

  • Access to cutting-edge treatments, procedures and drugs.
  • Choice of where chemotherapy takes place, at home for instance.
  • Money to pay for scalp cooling to reduce hair loss from chemotherapy.
  • Cover for the cost of prostheses and wigs that might be needed after cancer surgery/treatment.
  • Access to home nursing for a certain number of days, with a private nurse visiting you at home.
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What isn’t covered by private medical insurance?

What  isn’t covered by your private medical insurance will depend on your chosen insurer, policy and circumstances, but broadly speaking you can expect all of the following to be excluded:
  • Cross next to chronic conditions
    Chronic, incurable conditions
  • Cross next to GP Services
    GP services
  • Cross next to pre-existing medical conditions
    Pre-existing medical conditions
  • Emergency services excluded
    Emergency services
  • Normal pregnancy excluded
    Normal pregnancy
  • Cosmetic Surgery Excluded
    Cosmetic surgery
Best Private Medical Insurance UK

What is the best private medical insurance in the UK?

The top five providers of health insurance in the UK are BUPA, AXA PPP, Vitality, The Exeter and Aviva. Which insurer is best for you though will depend on your personal circumstances. To learn more about the best UK health insurance please read our recent article.
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Private medical insurance underwriting explained

Underwriting in private medical insurance is very important as it doesn’t only affect the price of your policy but also your coverage. That’s why we always recommend getting to grips with the fundamentals to ensure that you don’t inadvertently end up with less cover than you thought you had. There are two main types of underwriting used by UK insurers for private policies, they are Moratorium and Full Medical Underwriting.

Moratorium Underwriting

Moratorium Underwriting automatically excludes all your pre-existing conditions over a five year period. Rather than finding out about your medical history upfront, insurers will instead defer that process until such time that you make a claim. Moratorium Underwriting is by far the most popular form of private medical insurance underwriting in the UK. Its main disadvantage is that you won’t truly know whether you are covered until you make a claim.

Full Medical Underwriting

As the name suggests, Full Medical Underwriting looks at your medical history in its entirety with the insurer then providing you with a policy with clear exclusions. Full Medical Underwriting is time consuming and can require the insurer writing to your GP for information, but unlike moratorium underwriting, you will have a clear understanding of what is and isn’t covered on the policy.

Which health insurance underwriting is best?

Which health insurance underwriting method is best is subjective based on your own circumstances. As we mentioned, Moratorium is the most commonly used, but Full Medical Underwriting also has its place. As underwriting is such an important part of your cover, we’d always recommend speaking to us before you make a decision. All of our advice is free of charge.
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How much does private health insurance cost?

The cost of private health insurance is impacted by quite a large number of factors, with the most significant being:

Your age

The age of those on the policy will affect the annual premium and as you get older the cost of the policy will increase.

The level of cover you require

Whether you have outpatient diagnosis and treatments will significantly impact the cost of your policy.

Pre-existing conditions

If opting for Full Medical Underwriting, pre-existing conditions could affect the price of the policy.

The excess on the policy

You can choose how large the excess is on your policy - the higher it is, the lower your annual payments will be.

Your chosen list of hospitals

You can choose which hospitals you would like access to if you want only the very best it will be reflected in the price.

Optional extras

Optional extras such as dental cover and optical cover will affect the price of your policy.
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Compare UK’s Best Health Insurance Providers

There are many providers of health insurance in the UK but five insurers continue to stand out amongst the crowd: Aviva, Axa PPP, BUPA, The Exeter and Vitality. Each provides various benefits to their customers - which is best for you will very much depend on what your requirements are.
Aviva Logo

Aviva

Aviva is the largest insurer in the UK and their private medical insurance product is called Healthier Solutions. This is a fully customisable product which can be tailored to your budget and requirements.

  • Underwriting: Full Medical Underwriting, Moratorium and Continued Personal Medical Exclusions
  • Excess range: £100 - £5,000 per year
  • Core Cover: Inpatient and day patient with cancer cover
  • Outpatient Cover: From no cover, reduced with a cash limit, to full outpatient cover
Axa PPP Logo

Axa PPP Healthcare

Axa PPP Healthcare was founded in 1940 by a group of hospitals and doctors, specifically for people with average incomes. They have a large hospital directory and access to more than 33,000 practitioners and consultants in their network.

  • Underwriting: Full Medical Underwriting and Moratorium
  • Excess range: £100 - £5,000 per year
  • Core Cover: Inpatient and day patient with radio/chemotherapy and optional mental health cover
  • Outpatient Cover: Standard includes three consultations per year or Full which has unlimited consultations
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BUPA

Bupa provides health insurance to around 2.2 million people in the UK and is one of the largest providers we have. A household name with an excellent reputation, it’s no wonder so many people choose them each year.

  • Underwriting: Full Medical Underwriting and Moratorium
  • Excess range: £0 - £500 per year
  • Core Cover: Inpatient and day patient with radio/chemotherapy and mental health cover
  • Outpatient Cover: Full cover or optional limits of £500-£1000 per year
The Exteter Logo

The Exeter

The Exeter was founded in 1927 and is a mutual Friendly Society with over 60,000 members. The Exeter’s health insurance product, The Exeter Health+ includes mental health cover as standard.

  • Underwriting: Full Medical Underwriting, Fixed and Rolling Moratorium, Continued personal medical exclusions
  • Excess range: £0 - £5,000
  • Core Cover: Inpatient and day patient with cancer and mental health cover
  • Outpatient Cover: Full cover or optional limits of £500-£1000 per year
Vitality Logo

Vitality

Formerly Pruhealth, Vitality has around 1 million customers in the UK and is widely seen as an innovative insurer, providing incentives and rewards for healthier living.

  • Underwriting: Full Medical Underwriting, Moratorium, Continued personal medical exclusions
  • Excess range: £0 - £1,000
  • Core Cover: Inpatient and day patient with cancer cover
  • Outpatient Cover: Full cover or optional limits of £500-£1,500 per year
Freedom Health Insurance Logo

Freedom

Freedom Health Insurance provides policies for all levels of cover, with a focus on not stretching your budget.  Start with their Comprehensive Standard Policy and then add options.

  • Underwriting: Full Medical Underwriting, Moratorium and Continued Personal Medical Exclusions
  • Excess range: £100 - £5,000 per year
  • Core Cover: Inpatient with cancer cover
  • Outpatient Cover: From no cover, reduced with a cash limit, to full outpatient cover
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Compare the UK’s leading private health insurers

Compare the leading providers of private medical insurance with us and get free, impartial advice from one of our UK based partners. Health insurance can at times be complicated, and choosing the right policy isn’t always straightforward, which is why we’re here to help.
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Private Health Insurance FAQs

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