Private Health Insurance vs The NHS

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What is Private Health Insurance?

  • Health Insurance gives you access to private healthcare paid for by the insurer, providing you with high-quality healthcare when you need it the most.
  • Skip NHS waiting lists for operations and, depending on the options you choose, potentially jump the queues for tests, consultations and scans as well.
  • Get access to drugs and treatments not routinely available on the NHS.
  • Gain more control over your care, such as the facilities you receive treatment in and the consultants / specialists you see.
  • Extend cover to your partner and family to ensure your loved ones receive the same high-quality care as you with Joint Health Insurance or a family plan.

Is Private Health Insurance Worth It?

We’re fortunate that UK Private Health Insurance isn’t a necessity for the vast majority of British nationals because we have the NHS that provides free healthcare at the point of use.

However, while the NHS does a fantastic job, it has come under considerable strain in recent years. The British public is older and sicker and, at a time of constricted budgets, this has seen the NHS struggle to cope in certain areas.

Waiting lists and become longer and, in some instances, there’s been a lack of funding for new but expensive drugs and treatments, especially those relating to cancer care.

If you’re living with a debilitating acute health condition and it’s requiring you to be off work, you want treatment as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this may not always be possible on the NHS.

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Difference Between NHS and Private Health Insurance

As well as the speed at which you can receive care for acute health conditions, there are a number of other differences when you compare NHS care to Private Health Insurance.

While in many cases Private Health Insurance can be seen as superior to the NHS, especially when it comes to waiting times and access to novel drugs and treatments, there are some areas in which the NHS will remain an important part of your healthcare needs.

For instance, Private Health Insurance only covers acute conditions, which are those that can respond to treatment and subside.

Chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure, which remain with you for life, aren’t covered by Private Health Insurance.

Private hospitals don’t have emergency departments; as such, a condition requiring an A&E admission will remain under the NHS, as will care surrounding ‘normal’ pregnancy and childbirth.

Private Medical Insurance

Quick access to healthcare

Waiting lists may be as long as 18 weeks+

Get a specially-appointed consultant dedicated to your care

May not always see the same consultant more than once, even 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 / bathrooms with other patients

Only covers acute conditions

Treats all conditions, including emergency medicine and normal pregnancy / childbirth

Monthly premiums

Free at the point of use

Additional cover comes at a cost

Given free access to all treatments covered by the NHS

Mixing NHS and Private Healthcare

As mentioned above, there are some instances where Private Health Insurance won’t cover your medical needs and you’ll need to rely on the NHS.

Private Health Insurance doesn’t offer cover for:

  • Ongoing treatment / management of chronic conditions
  • Fertility treatment / IVF / normal pregnancy and childbirth
  • Accident and emergency treatment
  • Kidney dialysis
  • Treatment for substance and alcohol abuse.

This means you’ll have to mix Private Health Insurance with NHS care in a number of different areas.

Other medical treatments aren’t typically covered as standard by Private Health Insurance – you’d generally have to pay an additional premium to add them on.

This includes psychiatric treatment and routine dental / optical cover, which covers the likes of checkups, new glasses, fillings etc.

If you don’t pay the additional premiums, you’d need to rely on the NHS for your care in these areas.

Does Having Private Health Insurance Affect My NHS Care?

The NHS has guidelines on how paying for private healthcare will affect NHS treatment, which states:

  • Even if you pay for private treatment / use your Private Health Insurance, NHS care will continue to be provided free of charge
  • At no point can you be asked to pay towards your NHS care, except where legislation allows charges, such as prescription charges in England
  • The NHS will not pay for or subsidise any private hospital treatment you elect to seek,
  • There must be as clear a separation as possible between your private treatment and your NHS treatment
  • Your position on a NHS waiting list shouldn’t be affected if you choose to have a private consultation.

Get Health Insurance Advice

There are so many options to consider when it comes to Private Medical Insurance and how this interacts with the NHS it can be a bit of a minefield.

We are here to help you make an informed decision and find you the most competitive policy that meeds your needs.

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 2872 and growing independent client reviews rating us at 4.92 / 5.
  • Benefit from 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.
Drew Nelson Health & Wellbeing Expert at Drewberry

Whether you are looking for comprehensive cover or just something that will cover more serious conditions we are able to help.

Please do not hesitate to pop us a call on 02074425880 or email

Drew Nelson
Health & Wellbeing Expert 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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