Is Private Health Insurance Worth it?

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What is Private Health Insurance?

Private Health Insurance is designed to cover the cost of private medical care for acute conditions.

Depending on your condition, Medical Insurance can kick in to treat you privately. This offers access to better facilities, more personal care and the most advanced medical treatment on offer.

However, thanks to the NHS it often seems like there is little need to buy care that you can already get for free. As a result, many people are left asking ‘is Private Health Insurance worth it?

Although Private Medical Insurance (PMI) is not a necessity, it nevertheless has a lot of great benefits that make it a worthwhile purchase. These include:

  • No NHS waiting lists to delay treatment
  • Access to private facilities
  • Access to the latest procedures and medications
  • More control over your care, such as choice of consultants and the hospitals you receive treatment in.

What Does Private Health Insurance Cover?

In general, your insurance policy covers certain costs that come from being treated privately for acute medical conditions. (Click here for the difference between chronic and acute medical conditions.)

Your insurer will provide you with a list of private facilities that you can choose from to receive your care and they will cover expenses.

Private Medical Insurance offers three typical levels of cover:

With a basic policy you will be covered for basic inpatient care at a private facility.

Inpatient treatment is defined by treatment that requires the use of a hospital bed and an overnight stay. It also includes day patient treatment, where you need a hospital bed for a day.

Comprehensive and some mid-range policies also tend to include some if not all outpatient care, such as diagnostic tests, where you’re in and out of a facility on the same day without ever needing to occupy a bed.

Why Do I need Private Health Insurance?

Most of us own some type of insurance to cover our cars, our homes or our pets. Yet our health is just as much at risk, which is why it is important that we take measures to protect it.

While the NHS does a fantastic job, it can’t be denied that the service is facing immense pressure and this is being reflected in longer waiting times.

Many people in dire need of treatment are having to wait weeks before they can be seen.

If you were forced to take time off work due to a painful health condition, an 18 week wait to receive treatment through the NHS could put you in serious financial difficulty.

With private healthcare, on the other hand, you could be diagnosed and treated much sooner.

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Private Health Insurance vs the NHS

While private Health Insurance has a lot of benefits, it doesn’t cover anything. This means that you won’t be able to rely on private care alone depending on your medical issue.

While Private Health Insurance can improve the level of care you receive, there are some things that you can only get from the NHS.

Private Medical Insurance

Fast access to treatment

Wait times may be as long as 18 weeks+

Have a private, appointed consultant for your care

May not always see the same consultant again for the same condition

Appointments at a time and place to suit you

Appointment days, time and location set by your local hospital trust

Access to cutting edge treatments/drugs

NHS may not have the resources to provide you with the latest drugs, particularly for cancer treatment

Private, ensuite rooms

Usually have to share a ward and bathrooms with other patients

Only covers acute conditions

Treat all conditions, including emergency medicine and pregnancy/childbirth

Billed monthly premiums

Free at the point of use

Pay extra for different levels of cover

Given free access to all treatments covered by the NHS

How Much does Private Health Insurance Cost?

The cost of Private Medical Insurance will not be the same for everyone. This is because Health Insurance is varied between providers and most have optional levels of cover that you can choose from.

For some people, Private Health Insurance may be worth it, but for others it might be too expensive. It will depend on your circumstances and the policy you want.

What Affects the Cost of Health Insurance?


If you live in an area that has expensive private hospitals, such as London, then the cost of your health insurance will be more because it will cost more to cover your medical expenses.

Your age

Older people are more likely to have health complications because health deteriorates with age. Because of this, there are likely to be more medical expenses that your insurers need to cover and so the cost of your insurance policy will be higher.

The level of cover

A basic policy that covers only inpatient treatment will cost far less than a comprehensive policy that also covers outpatient treatment.

The private medical facilities you choose

Different facilities have different prices for treatments and care. When you apply for your Health Insurance policy, your insurer will give a list of eligible facilities to choose from if you require treatment.

If you choose to be treated the top facilities where care is more expensive then your insurance policy will also be more expensive.

Added benefits

Most policies have optional benefits and adjustable levels of cover that you can choose from when you take out your policy. The options you choose will affect the cost of your policy, making it either more or less expensive.

6 week NHS wait option

This optional condition with many policies can lower the cost. With this in place, your private cover will kick in only if the NHS waiting list for the inpatient treatment you need is longer than 6 weeks, saving you money.

Note that this only applies to inpatient treatment. If you’ve added outpatient cover on the policy to provide cover for diagnostic tests / scans etc., this will take place privately as soon as possible.


An excess is an amount that you agree to pay to cover some of the cost of your treatment. The higher you set your excess, the cheaper your Medical Insurance policy will be.

There are ways to reduce the cost of your policy, ensuring that the price of your Private Health Insurance is worth it for the cover you receive. For advice on which policy is best for you, contact us today.

Nadeem Farid
Head of Employee Benefits at Drewberry

Is Private Health Insurance Worth it? Get Expert Advice

Overall, Private Health Insurance is worth it for certain reasons, but cannot replace the NHS entirely.

Private Medical Insurance is, however, a great way to ensure many health problems are treated quickly and that if you require certain medical procedures, you can receive them in comfort and privacy.

We can guide you through the different policies and options, covering how much these options will impact the cost to make sure that your Private Health Insurance is worth it.

Why Speak to Us?

We started Drewberry because we were tired of being treated like a number and not getting the service we all deserve when it comes to things as important as protecting our health and our finances. Below are just a few reasons why it makes sense to talk to us.

  • There is no fee for our service
  • We are independent and impartial
    Drewberry isn’t tied to any insurance company, so we can provide completely impartial advice to make sure you get the most appropriate policy based solely on your needs.
  • We’ve got bargaining power on our side
    This allows us to negotiate better premiums for you than you going direct yourself.
  • You’ll speak to a dedicated expert from start to finish
    You will speak to a named expert with a direct telephone and email. No more automated machines and no more being sent from pillar to post – you’ll have someone to speak to who knows you.
  • Benefit from our 5-star service
    We pride ourselves on providing a 5-star service, as can be seen from our 2049 and growing independent client reviews rating us at 4.92 / 5.
  • Gain the protection of regulated advice
    You are protected. Where we provide a regulated advice service we are responsible for the policy we set-up for you. Doing it yourself or going direct to an insurer won’t provide this protection, so you won’t benefit from these securities.
  • Claims support when you need it the most
    You have support should you need to make a claim. The most important thing when it comes to insurance is that claims are paid and quickly. We are here to support you during the claims process and make sure it’s as smooth and stress free as possible.

If it is all getting a little confusing and you want to talk through your options to make sure you find the most suitable cover please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Pop us a call on 02074425880 or email

Tom Conner
Director at Drewberry

I had a great experience with Drewberry, they have a lot of knowledge and expertise with life insurance and income protection and were able to advise me and arrange suitable products. Highly recommend.

Lachlan Mellings
12/08/2020 Logo
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