Comprehensive Health Insurance

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What Makes Health Insurance Comprehensive?

  • Comprehensive Health Insurance provides you with access to private healthcare so you can bypass NHS waiting lists.
  • You’ll get private rooms, the highest standards of care and round the clock visiting hours.
  • Nearly all Private Health Insurance plans provide full cover for eligible inpatient healthcare, which is hospital treatment that requires the use of a bed.
  • A comprehensive policy, meanwhile, will extend cover to include costs for outpatient consultations, treatments and tests.
  • Outpatient care includes any tests and procedures where a bed is not needed, such as scans, blood tests and x-rays.

What Does Comprehensive Health Insurance Cover?

The best and most comprehensive Medical Insurance policies will include cover that cheaper plans may have only as an optional extra, such as alternative therapies or psychiatric cover as standard rather than as an additional add-on.

In addition to covering outpatient treatment in full, a fully comprehensive plan will provide extended cover for other methods of treatment such as physiotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and acupuncture.

The details below provide an overview of the cover that is included in a typical comprehensive health insurance plan:

  • Receive full outpatient cover for consultations, treatments, tests and scans
  • Extended cover for therapies, such as physiotherapy, osteopathy and acupuncture
  • An extensive hospital list that includes the UK’s best private hospitals, including sought-after London ones
  • Cover for psychiatric treatments and therapies
  • Routine dental and optical care
  • Advanced cover for cancer treatments and therapies
  • Comprehensive cover in overseas hospitals if you’re abroad and have a medical emergency.

Overall, comprehensive cover provides greater peace of mind knowing that all eligible inpatient, day-patient, outpatient and associated healthcare services are covered.


With comprehensive cover, all outpatient consultations with a specialist are covered in full and there are generally no limits imposed on the number of eligible consultations.

Basic Medical Insurance plans, on the other hand, or those with reduced outpatient cover, will typically provide no cover at all for consultations or limit the number or cost of consultations per policy per year.

MRI, CT and PET Scans

Nearly all comprehensive policies cover these scans in full and without restriction.

Other Diagnostic Tests

Practically all comprehensive plans will cover other diagnostic tests in full and without restriction. Basic plans either impose monetary restrictions on diagnostic tests, limit them to inpatient admissions only, or simply provide no cover at all.

Cancer cover

Nearly all health insurance plans – regardless of how comprehensive – will provide full cover for radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

In addition, comprehensive policies can provide cover for other essentials, such as prostheses, extended biological therapies, scalp cooling to prevent hair loss from chemotherapy and counselling services.

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How Does Comprehensive Health Insurance Work?

A comprehensive policy will allow you to use private facilities and specialists for all parts of your healthcare treatment due to outpatient cover being included as standard.

A Basic Policy With No Outpatient Cover

As you can see from the diagram below, a basic policy without outpatient cover will mean you’ll need to use the NHS up to the point of your private inpatient treatment.

Given there can be significant waiting lists on the NHS for diagnostic tests and consultations, this could lead to a delay in your care.

Private Health Insurance No Outpatient Process

A Comprehensive Policy With Outpatient Cover

With outpatient cover, diagnosis of medical conditions and tests can be performed a lot faster and you have more control over when and where your appointments take place.

All you’ll need is a referral from your NHS GP and you’ll be on the road to private medical treatment and hopefully a speedier recovery.

Comprehensive Medical Insurance Outpatient Process

Additional Comprehensive Benefit Options

As well as providing full cover for your essential treatments and consultations, a comprehensive policy can provide additional cover and a range of complementary benefits.

Such cover is rarely if ever included as an option for a basic Health Insurance policy.


Most comprehensive health insurance plans will provide full cover for physiotherapy.

Less comprehensive policies are unlikely to provide a level of outpatient physiotherapy or typically limit the cover provided to £500 per policy year. Some will only cover sessions if they are a follow-up from a covered inpatient treatment.

Psychiatric Healthcare

Many comprehensive policies provide at least some psychiatric cover as part of their plans. This is typically limited to outpatient-only sessions.

While there are some comprehensive Private Medical Insurance policies that offer both inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care as standard, most policies provide limited cover due to the cost of providing psychiatric treatment.

Policies will either cap the cost of your psychiatric care per policy per year or cover only specific psychiatric treatments.

Basic plans rarely cover psychiatric healthcare at all.

Comprehensive Health Cover Upgrades

Routine Dental and Optical Care

A number of policies allow you to include routine dental and optical healthcare to your plan for an additional premium.

The benefit provided usually sets out a specified pot of ‘cash’ for you to use throughout the year and claims are typically subject to an excess.

Upgraded Hospital List

For an increase in premium, it is possible to upgrade your hospital list to a premier list or a London list.

The London list provides access to an increased number of London hospitals compared to a standard national list.

With the premier list you can receive treatment at practically any hospital in the UK, including the country’s most prestigious hospitals.

How Much Does Comprehensive Medical Insurance Cost?

Your Health Insurance policy will be priced based on a range of factors, including your age, geography, and whether or not you smoke.

After this, it will be the policy options that you choose which will have the most influence over your monthly premiums and how comprehensive your cover will be.

  • Type of underwriting
  • Level of outpatient cover
  • Additional benefits
  • Chosen hospital list

In the below table, we’ve laid out the cost of a comprehensive Health Insurance policy, along with a mid-range and a basic option for comparison.

The quotes are based on a 30-year-old living in the same postcode as our Brighton offices paying a £250 excess.

Basic Plan
(No Outpatient Cover)

Mid-Range Plan
(Limited Outpatient Cover)

Comprehensive Plan
(Full Outpatient Cover)




Premiums correct as of January 21st, 2019
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Common Comprehensive Health Insurance Questions

  • Does Comprehensive Health Insurance Come With Dental Insurance?

    Comprehensive Health Insurance tends to involve some element of dental cover, typically for ‘dental emergencies’ such as if you have a tooth knocked out. Oral surgery is also typically included and will cover situations such as impacted wisdom teeth removal.

    However, full scale Dental Insurance doesn’t tend to come even with Comprehensive Health Insurance. It’s typically an additional extra you can opt to pay in your monthly premium and it will cover everyday dental expenses, such as checkups, cleanings, fillings and hygienist appointments.

  • Does Health Insurance Cover Surgery?

    Yes, all Health Insurance covers surgery as standard. Surgery is what’s known as inpatient treatment, where a hospital bed is required as a result of the procedure.

    Inpatient treatment is included in all Health Insurance policies regardless of how comprehensive the policy is.

    Surgery is available to treat all acute conditions providing they’re covered by the policy’s terms. Covered procedures typically include joint replacements, heart valve replacement / repair, cancer surgery, tonsillectomies etc.

    The main surgical procedures that aren’t typically covered are cosmetic procedures, such as breast enhancements.

  • What Are the Benefits of Private Medical Insurance?

    There are a number of benefits to Private Health Insurance, especially when compared to using the NHS.

    You’ll typically receive care in private facilities with better amenities than would be available through the NHS, such as private ensuite rooms and round-the-clock visiting hours for friends and family.

    You’ll also have a choice of hospitals / clinics and a choice of consultants you see in those settings.

    Of course, the biggest benefit of Private Health Insurance is the speed at which you can be seen. Private healthcare has none of the waiting lists that we’ve come to associate with the NHS, so if you have a painful health condition and are waiting to be seen then you’d most likely get relief faster going private than using the NHS.

    Another area where you might benefit with a Private Health Insurance policy is wider access to treatments such as cancer drugs that may not yet be available on the NHS due to their cost. Cancer care is usually covered in full by Private Health Insurance, including access to novel drugs and procedures that the NHS may not yet fund.

  • How Can I Cut the Cost of Private Medical Insurance?

    There are a few tips and tricks to cut the cost of Private Health Insurance, although if you are looking for a comprehensive policy you should be aware that this may reduce the coverage of the policy.

    • Adding an excess
      An excess refers to how much you’ll have to pay upfront for private medical treatment. It’s usually per person on the policy per policy year. So if you had a £100 excess, you’d need to pay for the first £100 of treatment you have in any given policy year. The larger your excess, the cheaper your premiums will be. This is a great way to reduce premiums without compromising on how comprehensive your cover is.
    • Adding the 6 Week NHS Wait
      If you add this option, if the treatment you need is available on the NHS with a wait of less than 6 weeks, you’d need to use the NHS for your treatment. It’s only if the treatment you need either isn’t available on the NHS or the wait is longer than 6 weeks for treatment that your Health Insurance kicks in. This saves money because many ailments will be dealt with in a timely manner by the NHS.
    • Reducing Outpatient Cover
      Outpatient cover refers to all treatment that doesn’t require the use of a hospital bed, such as tests, consultant appointments, x-rays and scans. You can limit the amount of outpatient cover you receive per policy year to reduce the cost of premiums. A mid-range policy will typically have £1,000 of cover per policy year; a comprehensive policy, on the other hand, won’t put a limit on this.
    • Review Your Hospital List
      You have multiple ‘tiers’ of hospitals available to you when you take out a Private Health Insurance policy. The best and most hospitals and facilities are those in Central London — you pay a premium to be able to access to them. A lower tier of hospitals might exclude Central London but still give you access to a range of national private facilities near you.
  • Does Health Insurance Go Up If You Use It?

    Yes, your Health Insurance may increase at renewal if you’ve made a claim in the previous policy year.

    For personal Health Insurance, insurers operate on a ‘no claims discount’ basis, whereby if you don’t make a claim you could receive a policy discount in the coming years.

    However, if you make a claim your no claims bonus is ‘knocked down’ a set number of tiers which will likely result in an increase in premiums the following year.

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Top 5 Comprehensive Private Health Insurance Providers



Aviva is the largest insurer in the UK. Aviva’s PMI offering is their Healthier Solutions product, which you can tailor to your own budget.

  • Underwriting
    Full Medical Underwriting / Moratorium / Continued Personal Medical Exclusions
  • Excess
    £100 / £200 / £500 / £1,000 / £3,000 / £5,000 per year
  • Core Cover
    Inpatient and day-patient / cancer cover
  • Outpatient Cover
    £0 / Reduced (limited to £500 or £1,000) / Full outpatient cover
axa ppp healthcare


Based in Tunbridge Wells, AXA PPP Healthcare has helped people to access healthcare services since 1940.

  • Underwriting
    Full Medical Underwriting / Moratorium
  • Excess
    £100 / £250 / £500 / £1,000* / £2,500* / £5,000*
  • Core Cover
    Inpatient and day-patient / radio/chemotherapy** / Optional mental health cover
  • Outpatient Cover
    Standard or Full


Established over 60 years ago, Bupa is a UK household name. Bupa Health Insurance has two tiers of over: Comprehensive (full inpatient and outpatient care) and Treatment & Care (inpatient-only). Both options include mental health cover as standard.

  • Underwriting
    Full Medical Underwriting / Moratorium
  • Excess
  • Core Cover
    Inpatient and day-patient / radio/chemotherapy / Mental health cover
  • Outpatient Cover
    Paid in full or with optional limits of £500 / £750 / £1,000
the exeter

The Exeter

Founded in 1927, Exeter Family Friendly is a mutual Friendly Society with over 60,000 members. The Exeter’s Health Insurance policy is known as The Exeter Health+, which includes mental health cover as standard.

  • Underwriting
    Full Medical Underwriting / Fixed moratorium / Rolling moratorium / Continued personal medical exclusions
  • Excess
    £0 / £100 / £250 / £500 / £1,000 / £3,000 / £5,000
  • Core Cover
    Inpatient and day-patient / cancer cover
  • Outpatient Cover
    Paid in full or with optional limits of £500 / £1,000


Vitality (formerly PruHealth) launched in October 2004 as a joint venture between Prudential and South African health insurance provider Discovery. Vitality has an innovative approach to health insurance in their Vitality plan, rewarding you with points and reduced premiums for healthy living.

  • Underwriting
    Full Medical Underwriting / Moratorium / Continued personal medical exclusions
  • Excess
    £0 / £100 / £250 / £500 / £1,000 once a year or once per claim
  • Core Cover
    Inpatient and day-patient / cancer cover
  • Outpatient Cover
    Paid in full or with optional limits of £500 / £750 / £1,000 / £1,250 / £1,500
*Not available with standard outpatient option
**For those who have had cancer before taking out the plan or who removed the cover for cheaper PMI, AXA's NHS Cancer Support will see the patient treated for cancer on the NHS but with any drugs not routinely available on the NHS paid for by AXA

Get Comprehensive Health Insurance Quotes & Expert Advice

All of the leading UK providers offer some form of comprehensive cover, although they can vary considerably in what they offer.

The devil is in the details, so it is vital that you read the terms of your policy carefully to make sure you’re getting the right kind of cover.

Alternatively, why not ask an expert for help?

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 2850 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.
Drew Nelson Health & Wellbeing Expert at Drewberry

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

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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