Average Cost of Private Health Insurance UK (May 2024)

By
Chris Steele
Founder and Editor
Chris is our resident private health insurance and healthcare expert. He has over a decade of experience writing about private medical insurance and treatment. He's Chartered Insurance Institute qualified and is regularly quoted by the national press.
Chris Steele
Reviewed by
Reviewed by
Gareth Tunstill
Director
First Choice Health & Protection
Gareth Tunstill
Updated on
Jun 21, 2024

If you're looking at private healthcare for the first time, the inevitable question is, "How much does health insurance cost?". This guide showcases our 2024 research to answer that question and give you an understanding of the average cost of health insurance UK.

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As seen in

Find out how much health insurance costs in 2024:

In 2024, we researched the average price people typically pay for a new health insurance policy.

  • Our private healthcare experts found that the average cost of private health insurance in 2024 is £90.03 per month (or £1,080.36 per year)
  • The average includes all age groups, and therefore, alongside other variables, it's unlikely this will be the cost of your policy
  • If you're looking for ways to reduce the cost of your health insurance, it pays to speak to a broker about things like increasing your excess or reducing your outpatient cover
  • If you want to understand how each of the leading providers stack up against one other, read our guide to the best health insurance in the UK

Before we go any further, we should state that while our research is thorough, the prices we share are indicative and, importantly, for new health insurance policies. When you get a quote, your price will differ from our findings, and your renewal premiums will likely vary, too. There are many reasons for this, from your postcode and age to the level of cover you require. We hope our research gives you enough of a guide to decide whether you would like a comparison quote from a health insurance broker.

How much does health insurance cost in the Uk?

Our recent research found that the average cost of private health insurance UK in 2024 is currently £90.03 per month based on a typical policy that includes in-patient, day-patient and out-patient cover.

*Average based on quotes from eight leading health insurers in 10 UK cities in January 2024. We opted for a comprehensive policy, with a £250 excess (or as close as possible), outpatient cover limited £1,000 per policy year where possible, and we included alternate therapies cover. We opted for a guided consultant list where availiable, excluding mental health, dental, optical and travel cover. Click here to see our full methodology.

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How much has the price of health insurance changed from 2023 to 2024?

In January 2023, we conducted nearly identical research, albeit, at the time, the very keenly priced Complete Health from WPA (with a traditional no-claims discount) wasn’t included.

A year ago, the average cost of health insurance UK was around 6% lower than it is today. However, adding WPA’s no-claims discount-based pricing is a significant reason the increase in the past 12 months is only modest. 

Taking WPA out of the equation shows a clearer view of how much prices have changed. If we look at the rest of the market, prices rose by around 18% in just a year.

Average cost of health insurance in the UK by applicant age

To better understand how much health insurance costs, the table below breaks down our research by the age of the person taking out the policy.

Average cost of private health insurance in the UK
Based on a typical comprehensive policy in January 2024.
AgeMonthly Premium (£)*
20-years-old£38.36
30-years-old£51.57
40-years-old£64.25
50-years-old£83.50
60-years-old£121.60
70-years-old£193.90
SOURCE: myTribe Insurance

The price of a new private health insurance policy is significantly higher the older you are. As a reminder, these prices aren’t renewal premiums, which could be higher or lower than the above based on whether you claim medical inflation and other factors.

Column charrt showing how much health insurance costs in the UK in 2024 by age

*Average based on quotes from eight leading health insurers in 10 UK cities in January 2024. We opted for a comprehensive policy, with a £250 excess (or as close as possible), outpatient cover limited £1,000 per policy year where possible, and we included alternate therapies cover. We opted for a guided consultant list where availiable, excluding mental health, dental, optical and travel cover. Click here to see our full methodology.

As you can see, the cost of private healthcare increases quite sharply based on your age. Something to remember is that if you get a policy when you're younger and claim, the renewal premiums are likely to be higher than those listed above, as your no-claims discount may have been reduced. One way to counter this is to shop around at renewal, but the downside is that you may introduce new exclusions to your policy by changing providers.

What impacts the cost of private medical insurance?

Many factors impact the cost of your health insurance; some you will have control over, such as cover levels, and others you won’t, i.e. your age. Here is a summary of the most significant influencers:

1. Your private health insurance cover level

What your private healthcare policy does and doesn’t cover significantly impacts your premiums. By opting for a treatment-only health insurance plan, for example (prices not included in this article), you’ll reduce your premiums by only being able to claim once you have received a diagnosis from the NHS or by self-paying for private medical tests and consultations.

If, on the other hand, you opt for all the bells and whistles, unlimited outpatient cover, therapies, mental health cover, travel cover and more, then your premiums will reflect it.

2. Your age

As can be seen by our research, the cost of private health insurance is tied closely to your age and for good reason. As we get older, the risk of ill health and injury increases, and therefore, we’re more likely to claim on our health insurance and need treatment.

3. Your claims history

When you take out a private healthcare policy for the first time, you typically benefit from a no-claims discount of approximately 65-70%. Over the years, and as you make claims or don’t, your discount level will reduce or increase, affecting your premiums accordingly. 

4. The cost of private medical treatment

The cost of private health insurance is closely tied to the cost of private medical treatment services, and like most things, those costs tend only to go up! Medical inflation is the technical term for the rising cost of healthcare services, currently at about 10%.

5. Overall claims volumes

The more insurers have to pay out in claims each year impacts all of their members, and with NHS services currently stretched, there’s a higher probability people will use their private medical insurance instead of waiting.

6. Whether you use Nicotine products

Finally, if you smoke, vape or use Nicotine products of any sort, your premiums may be higher, although this isn't always the case. While Nicotine replacement treatments are generally accepted to be safer than smoking, there isn’t enough long-term evidence of that, so unless you quit altogether, you can expect to pay a bit more for your private healthcare.

Other factors will affect your health insurance cost.

Too many other things will affect your private health insurance cost, such as whether you’ve had recent pre-existing medical conditions or want to include private treatment in high-end hospitals in central London. Just remember that there are plenty of ways to bring premiums down, and if you buy health insurance through a broker, they’ll be able to help you find the best policy for your personal circumstances and accounting for your individual medical history.

How much does postcode affect your private health insurance premiums?

Most private health insurance companies charge different amounts based on where you live in the UK, and there are several reasons, such as:

  • The cost of private medical treatment is close to where you live.
  • How frequently are people claiming in your postcode?
  • How affluent your area is.
  • How many people have health insurance in your area

Precisely how each of the private healthcare providers factors your postcode into their equation varies, but, in most cases, where you live will influence the cost of your policy.

Freedom Health Insurance doesn’t adjust pricing based on where you live.

Freedom Health Insurance is the only insurer we looked at that didn’t adjust their prices based on where you live. So whether you live in London or Edinburgh, the price you pay for your private healthcare insurance will be the same.

We asked Freedom Health Insurance why they take a different approach than most health insurance providers. They told us:

"We believe that we should be able to explain the premiums we charge to our customers, and establishing a link between a postcode and how much or how often a customer might claim under a medical insurance policy is unclear and difficult to understand. At Freedom, we believe in choice and that rating factors should reflect risk. As yet, we have not been convinced that the use of detailed postcode data in PMI pricing reflects risk in a way we are comfortable with or able to explain."

Alistair Sclare - Managing Director

Freedom Health Insurance has one of the most extensive standard hospital lists of any providers we’ve reviewed. However, some more expensive hospitals, particularly those in Central London, won’t be covered as standard, which is consistent with the other providers we’ve researched. You can, however, opt to include those hospitals by taking out their “London Plus” hospital list option.

National Friendly’s pricing is less affected by postcode than others.

While Freedom is the only private health insurance provider we looked at that doesn’t change prices based on where you live, National Friendly also has less pricing variation than others based on where you live. Of the ten cities we looked at, the only locations where National Friendly charged more were London and Manchester. 

Where is health insurance cheapest and most expensive in the UK?

Our researchers gathered pricing for ten towns and cities around the UK, so, we can show broadly the areas that health insurance is most and least expensive. However, given that all of our research focused on major urban areas with sizeable populations, it’s not conclusive, and there will be places dotted around the country where it will cost less and more.

Most expensive places for health insurance in the UK

Here are the three most expensive places to buy private health insurance in 2024, according to our research:

  1. London - 22% above national average
  2. Bournemouth - 13% above national average
  3. Manchester - 12% above national average

Least expensive places for health insurance in the UK

Here are the three least expensive towns and cities to buy private health insurance in 2024, according to our research:

  1. Edinburgh - 17% below national average
  2. Leeds - 7% below national average
  3. Cardiff - 6% below national average

Interesting takeaway

Surprisingly, health insurance costs more in Bournemouth on average than the major metropolitan areas of Manchester and Birmingham. If you didn’t know, Bournemouth is a hotbed of private medical insurance, with countless brokers and a couple of insurers in the town. Is this part of the reason for the higher cost, we wonder?

How do insurers compare on price?

Comparing private health insurance providers against one another is notoriously tricky, as you’re never comparing like for like; they each offer different benefits in their policies. That said, we’ve done our best to standardise what they’ve quoted to give you an idea of what each charges for a comprehensive policy, but please request a quote and speak to a broker so you understand what each includes before making a decision. 

Health insurance isn’t just price-driven; you may find that you get a provider and policy with benefits that tick your boxes by spending a little more.

Important note: Several of the insurers we sampled (WPA, Freedom and National Friendly) do not offer a “guided consultant list”, and therefore, the pricing we’ve received from those gives you access to a larger pool of medical specialists. All the providers will allow you to pay more to have more, but the pricing from these three includes it by default.

9 ways to reduce the cost of your health insurance

So far in this article, we’ve outlined the factors which affect the price of private health insurance policies, along with some example pricing, but what if you want to reduce the cost? This section covers most of the ways we can help you to reduce the cost of private medical insurance:

1. Limiting your outpatient cover or removing entirely.

If you want to significantly reduce the cost of your health insurance and have outpatient cover, you could review how much you need moving forward. This option isn’t appealing to many people, as they want continued outpatient cover, but, you could add benefit limits to your policy to reduce costs. For example, you could limit your annual outpatient allowance to £1,000, which will reduce your premiums without completely sacrificing the benefit.

2. Opt for a higher policy excess.

Probably the most straightforward solution to reduce the price of your health insurance is to increase your policy excess. While on the face of it, this is simple and easy to do, we do always suggest caution in this respect, as no one likes to be faced with a hefty bill when they are unwell. You should also be careful as if invoices for treatment fall across two plan years, you may have to pay your excess twice!

3. Choose a guided consultant option.

While all the insurers will allow you to choose a hospital list, i.e., the hospitals you can use, another option is “guided consultants”. With a guided option, you agree (for a reduction in your premiums of around 20%) to have your insurer suggest 2-3 specialists and the hospital you should use should you require treatment.

How it works and what it’s called varies between providers. Bupa gives you more flexibility than others, but be aware that choosing a guided option reduces the pool of medical specialists and facilities you can use

4. Always compare providers, especially at renewal time.

Shopping around is hugely important. You’ll often find that you can save considerable money by switching providers at renewal time. The quickest and easiest way to do this? With a broker. They do the leg work for you and will be able to save you considerable time and likely money, too!

5. Try to give up smoking.

If you’re a smoker, your premiums for health and other insurance, such as life insurance, may be higher. By quitting smoking, you will enjoy better health and reduce your insurance premiums for these products.

6. Remove supplementary cover.

There can sometimes be supplementary or optional cover that's been added to a policy which isn’t needed. We recommend looking at your policy in detail to see whether you actually need everything that has been included, perhaps you have something like mental health cover that you've never used and don't feel you need any longer, or another add-on.

7. Review your underwriting method.

The main types of underwriting used for private medical insurance are Moratorium and Full Medical Underwriting, and changing the method used can sometimes yield savings. A word of caution, though: changing your underwriting method must be done carefully not negatively to affect what’s covered by your policy.

8. Add a 6-week wait. 

You can add a 6-week NHS wait clause into the policy, which effectively says if the waiting list for the treatment you require is less than six weeks on the NHS, you will go down that route rather than opting for private medical care. It’s an effective way of reducing the cost of policies, but it does sacrifice your level of cover.

9. Speak to an expert.

Finally, you should speak to a qualified expert to ensure you have the best policy for the best price, which covers you for what you need but no more. Request a comparison quote below, and we’ll put you in touch with one of our highly rated-brokers.

Closing thoughts

We hope you find this information useful; if you have any questions or would like full access to our research, please email contact@mytribeinsurance.co.uk

Please bear in mind that these prices are for individuals and couples, families and companies can often receive discount based on the number of people included. Business health insurance in particuar can often work out far cheaper per person than numerous individual polciies.

As a final reminder, please take the information provided on this page as a guide only. While our research has been extensive, you’re always best to speak to a health insurance broker who can perform a detailed market review on your behalf. To request a free comparison quote from one of our recommended brokers, please click the button below.

Our research methodology

Private health insurance is a complicated financial product that can be configured in many ways - because of that, getting a meaningful average is difficult. While all private health insurers offer slightly different products, we’ve done our best to minimise the variables to provide you with some guide prices.

Our data sample

For this research, we focused on the cost of an individual policy, with the applicant being one of the following ages: 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 or 70 years old. 

For each of those ages, we obtained quotations from 10 towns and cities around the UK: Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester, and Oxford.

Finally, we received quotes from the eight best private health insurance providers - WPA, The Exeter, AXA Health, Freedom, Bupa, National Friendly, Vitality and Aviva for those ages in those cities.

Private medical insurance quote configuration

We needed to decide what level of cover our fictional applicant required to get quotes from each of the eight insurers. Working with external health insurance brokers, we built a list of policy requirements based on what a typical policy might look like; in short, these were:

  • The policy was comprehensive, scoring a three, four or five-star Defaqto rating.
  • We included Outpatient Cover, limited to a maximum of £1,500 a year.
  • We included Therapies Cover (i.e. physiotherapy, acupuncture and homoeopathy).
  • The policy excess was set at £250 (or as close to that as possible)
  • We excluded Mental Health Cover (Bupa, however, include this as standard).
  • We defaulted to the insurer’s standard hospital list.
  • We excluded Dental, Optical and Travel Cover.
  • The policy was underwritten on a moratorium basis.
  • We opted for a guided consultant list, albeit several insurers don’t offer this (WPA, Freedom and National Friendly)

Data sources:

Aviva Website (January 2024)

Axa Health Website (January 2024)

Bupa Website (January 2024)

Freedom Website (January 2024)

The Exeter Website (January 2024)

Vitality Website (January 2024)

WPA Website (January 2024)

Disclaimer: This information is general and what is best for you will depend on your personal circumstances. Please speak with a financial adviser or do your own research before making a decision.

This article was written by:
Chris Steele
Founder and Editor

Chris is our resident private health insurance and healthcare expert. He has over a decade of experience writing about private medical insurance and treatment. He's Chartered Insurance Institute qualified and is regularly quoted by the national press.

Article reviewed by
Gareth Tunstill
on
3rd May 2024

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