Should I Include Mental Health Cover on Private Medical Insurance?

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What is Mental Health Cover?

The waiting lists for psychiatric care are among the longest on the NHS. Many patients have to wait months or even years for counselling or an appointment with a consultant psychiatrist.

As such, people in need of mental healthcare may be forced to choose between excessively long wait times on the NHS or expensive treatments from private clinics.

That’s why many insurance providers offer mental health insurance cover: a Private Health Insurance add-on that offers full or partial cover for private mental health treatment.

Note that mental health cover is not typically provided as part of a standard Medical Insurance policy – you’ll need to add it on in most cases.

Doing so will increase your premiums, but it can be a very worthwhile benefit if you need it.

What Mental Healthcare Will My Private Medical Insurance Cover?

Private Health Insurance as is designed to cover the treatment of acute health conditions, which are conditions that require typically short-term treatment and can be cured or reversed.

Chronic conditions on the other hand are long-term conditions that can only be managed as opposed to cured. These are not covered by Health Insurance.

It’s easier to differentiate acute physical health problems from chronic ones than it is for mental health issues. That is why some insurers limit the cover they provide per mental health condition.

Some insurers will only allow you to claim for a specific mental health problem for a maximum period of time. Others place a strict financial cap on benefits you can receive.

What Mental Health Treatments Are Covered?

Insurance providers typically categorise different types of mental healthcare as inpatient or outpatient.

Inpatient Psychiatric Treatments

Inpatient care is defined as care and treatment that requires the use of a hospital bed. In the case of mental healthcare, admission to a psychiatric hospital would fall under this category.

As an inpatient in a private psychiatric hospital, you will have access to a range of different therapies, personally assigned nurses and psychiatrists and recreational facilities.

Typically, mental health care insurance cover will cover the costs of your assessments, treatments and any medications that you may be prescribed while staying at a private psychiatric hospital.

Outpatient Mental Healthcare and Therapies

Outpatient care covers any treatments or consultations that don’t require the use of a bed. This typically includes therapy sessions, diagnostic sessions and psychiatric assessments.

Today, most treatments for mental health problems are outpatient. Initial assessments, consultations, counselling and therapy sessions are considered as outpatient treatments.

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Why Add Mental Health Cover to My Private Medical Insurance?

According to the NHS 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health problems each year.

Moreover, the number of people seeking out mental health treatment in the UK has continued to rise, increasing by 14.2% between 2000 and 2014.

If you add mental health care insurance to your policy, you will be able to access psychiatric treatments and therapies with a vastly reduced waiting time compared to the NHS.

Meanwhile, adding outpatient cover to your policy can also speed up your diagnosis and offer more control over when and where you receive your treatments.

What is the Best Health Insurance with Mental Health Cover?


Aviva’s optional mental health cover will provide up to 28 days as an inpatient or day-patient and £210 per week to cover inpatient specialists’ fees. Their full outpatient cover option will also cover up to £2,000 of psychiatric treatment following referral.


AXA’s optional mental health cover covers inpatient psychiatric treatments, including diagnostic tests and medications, as well as mental health outpatient cover for psychiatric, psychologist or CBT appointments. These benefits have no yearly limit providing the condition doesn’t become chronic.


Bupa offer a standard 28 days of mental health treatment as a day-patient or inpatient as part of their core cover (providing the condition doesn’t become chronic). If you add outpatient cover to your policy, they will also give full outpatient cover for therapy sessions and psychiatric consultations.

The Exeter

The Exeter’s optional mental health cover on its Health+ policy provides coverage for specialist treatments as an inpatient or day-patient, including accommodation and nursing for up to 28 days. Out-patient consultations and treatment by psychologists and cognitive behavioural therapists are also covered in full.


Vitality’s optional psychiatric cover includes sessions with a psychiatrist/psychologist covered to a limit of £15,000 or £20,000 per year. Psychiatric outpatient treatments are limited to an allowance of £1,500 per year.

Nadeem Farid Independent Protection Expert at Drewberry

Given that the extra cost of adding mental health cover to certain policies could be notable, it can be worth speaking to an expert about the pros and cons of this additional benefit.

If you need any help please don’t hesitate to pop us a call on 02074425880 or email

Nadeem Farid
Head of Employee Benefits at Drewberry

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