What is a health cash plan?

A health cash plan can help ease the expense of routine trips to the dentist or optician. To help you decide if a health cash plan is right for you, we explore how they work and more importantly, how much they cost.

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What is a health cash plan?

Health cash plans help cover the cost of regular health appointments, for example going to the optician, dentist or physio. Plans can also cover:

  • Chiropody
  • Physiotherapy
  • NHS prescription charges
  • Vaccines
  • Overnight hospital stays
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Birth and adoption (one off payments for each child you have)

Some cash plans will also let you claim back costs for alternative therapies like acupuncture and homeopathy.

How does a cash plan work?

When you buy a health cash plan, you’ll pay a monthly premium and in return, you’ll be able to claim back the cost of the treatments covered by your policy. In most cases, you’ll pay for the service first and your cash plan provider will compensate you afterwards.  

The amount you can claim back will depend on the policy you have with your provider. Some will let you claim 100% of the cost of treatment up to a certain amount – for instance, £60, £100 or £200 per year. When you reach the limit, you won’t be able to claim against that particular benefit until you renew the policy the following year.

For example, let’s say your policy covers 100% of dental treatment costs up to £90. If you have £90 worth of treatment in one year, you’ll be able to claim all this back.

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How much does a health cash plan cost?

The cost of a health cash plan varies considerably. You can find individual policies for as little as £7 a month, while some will set you back over £30 (around £360-£400 per year).

Generally, the more services your plan covers and the higher the claim limit, the more you can expect to pay each month.

Premiums can also be affected by other factors, including your age and even where you live.

Can I buy a joint or family cash plan?

Yes, you can buy health cash plans for couples and families but remember to read the small print, particularly when it comes to adding children to a plan.

Although children can often be added to your policy for free, what you can claim will vary. Some policies will give children their own claim allowance, while others will expect children to share, either between themselves or with parents.

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Is a health cash plan the same as private medical insurance?

No, private medical insurance (PMI) and health cash plans are not the same.

Health cash plans are designed to help you manage the cost of everyday healthcare appointments. PMI, on the other hand, covers treatment for acute medical conditions. These are short-term illnesses that usually get better with treatment – for example, hernias, broken bones, pneumonia.

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Is a health cash plan worth it?

If you regularly have treatments or use services covered by the policy, a health cash plan can help you budget and keep the cost of good health under control. Of course, the key to getting the most out of your policy, is to remember to claim back what you’re entitled to.

On the flip side if you don’t have regular eye check ups or access other services then you’ll end up paying more into the policy than you get out.

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Who provides health cash plans?

We’ve rounded up a few health cash plan providers to give you an idea of what’s available. It’s also worth looking at review sites and forums to see what policyholders are really saying, especially when it comes to customer service.  

BHSF

BHSF offers four levels of cover starting from £8.40 up to £31.50* per month. You can claim for all your treatment costs up to the value set out in your policy.

Treatments and services include consultations and hospital in-patient treatment for up to 30 nights or days. BHSF also provides access to a GP 24/7 by video or telephone call. Policies cover prescription charges and flu vaccines too.

Simplyhealth

Simplyhealth is the UK’s first health insurer to have B Corp status. It means they’ve been proven to work to high standards in terms of sustainability and transparency.  

You can choose from five levels of cover with level one costing just £7.50* a month. This includes access to a GP 24/7 through an app or telephone appointment, physio assessments, counselling and wellbeing advice. You’ll also be able to claim up to £20 worth of prescription charges.

However, level one does not cover dentist or optician appointments. For this, you’ll need to be on their level two plan which is £10* per month for one person. Level five cover (their most comprehensive plan) is £60* a month.

Children can be added to your policy but at a cost, which ranges from £1.50* for level one to £18* for level five. 

Sovereign Health Care

Established in 1873, Sovereign Health Care offers five levels of cover costing from £9.62 to £28.86* per adult. You can add dependent children under 18-years-old for free[AE10] . Children also have their own allowance and receive the same level of cover as their parents (with the exception of the birth or adoption payout).

You can claim back 100% of dental and optical treatment costs, up to the agreed value in your policy. For all other benefits, you can claim back up to 50% of your policy limit. 

One of the big benefits with Sovereign Health Care is that you can claim for treatment anywhere in the world (as long as you’re seen by a qualified professional).

UK Healthcare

UK Healthcare is one of the oldest established health cash plan providers in the country. They offer four levels of cover ranging between £9 and £36 per month*.

You can claim back 100% of treatment costs which also includes complementary therapies such as homeopathy, reflexology, aromatherapy and remedial massage. You’ll also be able to benefit from special gym membership fees.

UK Healthcare cash plans will also provide temporary cover while you’re abroad and there’s a counselling helpline if you need additional support. Also included in the plan is an accidental death payout for adults between £2,500 and £10,000, depending on the policy level you choose.

Westfield Health

The Westfield Health Group bought UK Healthcare in 2018 but also offer their own cash plan with a choice of five levels, ranging from £8.09* to £49.39* per month. Children can be added at no extra cost.

Level one and two plans do not cover prescription charges, while levels three, four and five limit your claim to number of items rather than value. For example, level 3 coverage means you can claim money back for one item only.

Gym discounts are available, and all plans give you access to a GP by telephone 24/7.

WHA Direct

WHA Direct offers one of the cheapest plans available – just £7 per month for their lowest level of cover up to £19* for their most comprehensive. Alternative therapies and counselling are also covered. Bear in mind that what you can claim back is spread over two years rather than one, which is reflected in the lower premiums.

You can add your partner to your policy for an additional cost but children under 18-years-old can be added for free.

Search cash plans for help with routine healthcare

Health cash plans should provide you with value for money, so it’s worth taking a few minutes to work out what type of treatments and services you’re most likely to access before you compare policies.

You can also complement your health cash plan with private medical insurance. Having policies run alongside each other can help you get the treatment and care you need at a time and place that’s convenient to you. For more information, you can take a look at our extensive guide to the best private healthcare in the UK.

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.

Chris Steele
Cert CII (F1, IF7 & I10)
Founder and Editor

Chris is our resident private health insurance and healthcare expert and has over a decade's experience writing for and about private medical insurance and private treatment. He's a Cert CII qualified member of The Chartered Insurance Institute and his research and work are often cited in the press. Chris is also contributing writer to numerous other financial services publications.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I need a medical to buy a cash plan?

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Generally, no, you won’t need a medical to buy a health cash plan. But you must tell your provider about any pre-existing medical conditions.

If I have a pre-existing medical condition, can I buy a cash plan

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In most cases, you can buy a health cash plan even if you have a pre-existing condition, but they could be excluded from your policy.

For instance, if you previously had physio for back pain, you might not be covered for any future back treatments. The good news is that this shouldn’t stop you getting physio for anything else (like tennis elbow).

Does a cash plan provide immediate cover?

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Some policies do offer cover immediately, but others will have a waiting or ‘qualifying’ period. This is usually a few weeks or months.

Can I cancel my cash plan?

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Yes, if you buy a policy and change your mind, you’ll usually have a minimum of 14-days to cancel your policy.

If you decide to cancel your policy part way through the year, you can usually do this too without penalty fees, but your contract should clearly set out cancellation terms.

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