Finding the best Private Health Insurance can be tricky. There are a range of insurers and plans available, each with their own policy options and tiers of cover.
At its core, all Private Medical Insurance pays for private healthcare. This lets you skip lengthy NHS waiting lists and get treatment exactly when you need it the most.
- Access new drugs and novel treatments that may not yet be available on the NHS
- Private hospitals usually have superior facilities, e.g. private, ensuite rooms and round-the-clock visiting hours
- Treatment is all paid for by your insurer (less any excess).
However, not every policy or provider is created equal. Some will be better than others for your needs and circumstances. This guide talks you through finding the best UK Health Insurance, including the policy options you’ll want to look for and which provider offers the best cover.
In addition to this expert guide we have also written expert reviews for each of the top UK health insurers individually including Bupa, Aviva and Vitality.
If at any point you want to get an idea of cost our online quote tool compares premiums of all the top UK health insurers →
How Do You Get The Best Private Health Insurance Coverage?
To get the best cover, you’ll need to compare some key factors relating to providers and policies. For example, you’ll want to examine:
First and foremost, look at the insurer providing your cover. Take a look at insurer reviews, both from clients and from expert advisers.
How is the claims experience? Do they offer the level of cover you want in the areas you’re most concerned about?
This is the real nitty-gritty of the policy, laying out exactly what the plan will and won’t cover you for.
Inpatient vs Outpatient Cover
All Health Insurance covers inpatient treatment — care needing at least one overnight stay in a hospital bed — as standard. However, few providers cover outpatient treatment as standard. This is all care not needing a hospital bed, anything from X-rays and blood tests to physiotherapy.
You’ll usually therefore need to add outpatient cover on for an extra premium.
Read more about the difference between inpatient and outpatient cover here ⟶
Other options to consider include:
- Therapies cover
For example physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractor appointments. Insurers might include it with outpatient cover; split physiotherapy from other therapies (offering physiotherapy with outpatient cover but other therapies only an an additional cover); or require you to add all therapies for an extra premium.
- Mental healthcare
Treatment from a psychiatrist / psychologist, either as an outpatient or as an inpatient in a private psychiatric facility. One major insurer that offers this as standard, but most have it as an optional add-on for an extra premium.
- Cancer coverage
All policies cover cancer care as standard. However, the scope of cancer coverage varies between insurers. Some offer the most cutting-edge cancer treatments, such as proton beam therapy, while others do not.
- Dental and optical cover
Cover for routine dental (e.g. checkups, fillings, crowns etc.) and optical care (checkups, money towards glasses / contact lenses). Always an optional extra for an additional premium, this reimburses you a set amount towards treatment rather than paying in full.
The excess is how much you agree to pay upfront towards your treatment. You can opt for an excess of zero, which means the insurer picks up the entire bill for your treatment. At the other end of the scale, some insurers offer a £5,000 excess.
The higher your excess, the lower your premiums. It might therefore be more cost effective to set a higher excess if you could afford it to reduce monthly premiums depending on your circumstances.
Insurers arrange their hospital lists in tiers. The best Health Insurance offers treatment in the top tier of hospitals. These include world-leading private facilities in Central London.
Choose from a smaller list of less prestigious facilities outside of Central London if you want to save money.
You choose how your insurer underwrites your policy, which affects the conditions you can claim for based on your pre-existing medical history. Which option is best depends on your circumstances — see more below.
Look beyond the core cover. All policies pay for private medical care — not all health insurance companies offer the same additional benefits.
This might include:
- 24 / 7 video GP service
- Medical helpline staffed by trained nurses for more minor medical concerns
- Mental health support helpline
- Gym discounts
- A cash benefit if you opt for NHS inpatient care for a condition the policy covers rather using your insurance
- A baby bonus if you have a child during your policy
- Parent accommodation one of your children who the policy covers requires private inpatient care.