Private Health Insurance vs The NHS

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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.

We all deserve a first class service when it comes to issues as important as protecting our health. Below are just a few reasons why it makes sense to talk to us.

  • There is no fee for our service
  • We are an award winning 🏆 independent insurance broker who works with all the leading UK insurers
  • You’ll speak to a dedicated expert from start to finish
  • We are very proud of the 3782 and growing independent client reviews rating us at 4.92 / 5
  • Claims support when you need it most.
  • We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. You can find us on the financial services register here 🧐
  • Claims support when you need it most.

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

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Contact Us

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