Benefits of getting health insurance while you're young

Kirsty France
Personal Finance and Healthcare Expert
Kirsty is a personal finance and healthcare expert who enjoys demystifying legal and insurance topics for a wider audience. She’s a former solicitor with a personal injury and insurance background.
Kirsty France
Reviewed by
Chris Steele
Founder and Editor
Cert CII (F1, IF7 & I10)
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
Updated on
May 8, 2024

When you're young and healthy, illness and injury might feel a long way off. If health insurance is low on your priority list, this article should give you food for thought. Here are a few benefits of buying health insurance when you're young.

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Why is health insurance worth considering?

Private medical insurance gives you access to high-quality private healthcare. You can choose your hospital and consultant (unless you have a guided list) and stay in a private room while you recover. Depending on your chosen policy, health insurance can also help you get a faster diagnosis and treatment without spending time on an NHS waiting list. You'll also have access to other services, such as 24/7 virtual GP appointments, mental health helplines, member perks, and discounts.

What does private health insurance cover?

You can tailor your health insurance policy to suit your needs. Every policy comes with core coverage that your health insurers include as standard, typically inpatient treatment, cancer cover, and some mental health support. You'll also have access to all the member-only services and perks your insurers offer.

Optional extras typically include outpatient treatment, enhanced mental health cover and optical and dental cover. Some insurers offer packaged health insurance policies, while others let you tailor your policy with varying financial limits to suit your needs and budget.

Benefits of getting health insurance when you're young

Young adults increasingly face a challenging economic outlook. Health insurance might seem like a luxury if you're starting out in life, trying to build a career and pay the rent. However, there are benefits for young adults investing in private medical insurance. Here are a few points to consider.

1. It's relatively inexpensive

Healthi insurance for young adults doesn't cost a fortune, by comparison to what it can cost for those a bit older. For example, a 20-year-old can expect to pay in the region of £38.36 per month for a new comprehensive policy, with 30-year-olds paying around £51.57. Compare that to what the over 50's would pay (between £80-£200 per month) it's a postive bargain.

When you compare health insurance quotes (let us know if you need one) you'll be able to put the insurers up against each other and compare the benefits and costs side by side. As health insurance is a fairly complicated product, it's usually best to do this with an experienced broker. You'll get free advice and the best pricing currently availiable.

2. You'll be in better health

Young adults typically enjoy good health, but that can change as you age. Getting health insurance at a younger age often means you can afford a more comprehensive policy. If you start to experience health issues as you age, you'll have the right coverage to access private treatment.

This doesn't just apply to physical illness. Comprehensive private medical insurance policies provide enhanced mental health coverage. Work and family life can put more pressure on you over the years, and your health insurance can provide excellent support.

two runners on a trail at sunset

3. Fewer exclusions

Health insurance pays for private healthcare for acute conditions that arise after you buy the policy. If you sought advice or treatment for any medical issues during the five years before purchasing the policy, they'll be defined as pre-existing conditions and won't be covered. That means you'll need to wait for NHS treatment or find a way to fund private treatment yourself.

Many people come to us for health insurance when they're already on a waiting list. Unfortunately, we have to tell them it's too late to get health insurance cover for that condition. You'll likely have a less complex medical history when you're young, which means fewer exclusions.

4. Your policy can grow with your life

If you're still in your 20s, you may not have many commitments to consider. However, that can change as you age. You may think that the right time for health insurance is later in life when you have children to look after. It's worth sorting out your health insurance now to take advantage of the other benefits. You can often add them to your policy if you get married or have children later. Many family-friendly insurance providers let you add your children to your policy. In some cases, you'll only pay for the first child.

5. It can be easier to switch providers

Switching from one health insurance provider to another can be complex and shouldn't be undertaken lightly. Switching can mean adding new exclusions to your policy or losing some of your accrued benefits. However, buying health insurance when you're younger means you're less likely to claim for private treatment. If you find the policy perks aren't for you or find a better deal on renewal, it's easier to switch if you haven't claimed.

6. Health insurance perks can save you money

Your health insurance policy can give you more than just private healthcare. Many private medical insurance policies now come with member perks and discounts, such as discounted cinema tickets, gym memberships, or free coffee.

Vitality pioneered providing rewards for customers living healthy lifestyles. Their rewards program lets you earn additional benefits by being active. Their benefits include discounts on fitness tracking technology and gym memberships. If you already pay to use the gym, the discount could cover the cost of your policy.

Other insurers are catching on to the idea of offering enhanced rewards, so it's worth shopping around.

Illustration of a group of young adults, Text on graphic reads: "5 reasons to get health insurance when you are younger. 1.It’s cost-effective; 2. Nip health conditions in the bud; 3.You’ll likely have fewer exclusions; 4.You can adapt your policy to your lifestyle; 5.You’ll be rewarded with extras"

Choosing your health insurance policy

Even if you've got youth on your side, getting several health insurance quotes is still a good idea to find the best coverage for your needs. Insurance companies vary in the policy terms they offer. Some provide virtually comprehensive insurance as standard, while other policies are more flexible and easier to customize. You may also want to consider your long-term goals and think about whether you want an insurer that focuses on promoting health and well-being or a more family-friendly option.

Core coverage

As mentioned, all private medical insurance provides core coverage, typically including inpatient treatment, cancer care and other support services. However, some providers offer more comprehensive coverage in their basic policies. For example, outpatient treatment, including specialist consultations and diagnostic tests, is usually only available as an optional extra. However, The Exeter includes outpatient surgical procedures carried out by a consultant in their core cover. Aviva's Healthier Solutions policy includes tests and consultations in its core cover.

Optional extras

Optional extras can give you valuable additional benefits. We typically recommend adding outpatient cover as you're much more likely to need tests or outpatient care than you are to need a night in the hospital. If you already pay for your dentist appointments or eye tests, optical and dental cover could save you money.

Your policy will also have a hospital list setting out which hospitals and treatment centres are covered. You'll typically pay more for an extended list, including hospitals in major cities or central London. Before choosing your health insurance policy, ensure you can access treatment near your home or work when needed.

Health insurance exclusions

We've already mentioned that your medical history will impact your health insurance coverage. Other exclusions also apply.

Chronic conditions

Health insurance pays for private healthcare for acute conditions. Chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes or high blood pressure aren't covered. Private hospitals and treatment centres offer short-term care, whereas chronic conditions need long-term monitoring and management.

Regardless of age, if you already have a chronic illness or develop one in the future, your NHS GP or consultant will provide your care.

Policy exclusions

Some exclusions apply to every policyholder. Private medical coverage funds medically necessary care, so many exclusions relate to treatments considered a lifestyle choice rather than a necessity. There are exceptions. Most insurers exclude treatments for alcoholism or other addictions. However, Bupa classifies them as a mental health condition.

Some of the most common exclusions are:

  • Straightforward pregnancy and birth (although complications are often covered).
  • Cosmetic surgery and weight-loss treatments.
  • Accident and emergency.

Get in touch

At MyTribe, our guides offer general information to help you learn more about health insurance. However, speaking to a broker is the best way to find the right health insurance policy for your needs. Contact us for a comparison quote, and we'll put you in touch with a specialist broker for tailored advice.

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:
Kirsty France
Personal Finance and Healthcare Expert

Kirsty is a personal finance and healthcare expert who enjoys demystifying legal and insurance topics for a wider audience. She’s a former solicitor with a personal injury and insurance background.

Article reviewed by
Chris Steele
16 April 2024

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