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 more than others will better match your needs and circumstances. This guide covers the key policy options and top providers you will want to consider when looking for the best UK Health Insurance.
In addition to this expert guide we have also written reviews for each of the top UK health insurers 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 or require you to add all therapies for an extra premium.
- Mental healthcare
Treatment from a psychiatrist / psychologist in a private psychiatric facility. One major insurer 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 could be more cost effective to set a higher excess 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.
The policy underwriting affects both the cost and the conditions you can claim for based on your pre-existing medical history.
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.
What Do Top UK Health Insurance Policies Cover?
The main way insurers categorise their Health Insurance policies is by present of outpatient cover.
- Basic Health Insurance
Only pays for inpatient care and doesn’t offer any outpatient care at all.
- Mid-Range Cover
Covers some outpatient treatment up to a set monetary limit per year. The insurer offers a range of choices for this limit, such as £500, £1,000 or £1,500 per year.
- Comprehensive Health Insurance
The best Health Insurance, comprehensive cover pays for all eligible inpatient and outpatient care in full.
The more outpatient cover your policy provides, the better the medical insurance but the higher your premiums will be. The best Health Insurance in the UK is comprehensive cover.
Do I Need Outpatient Cover?
You don’t have to add outpatient cover. Having little or no outpatient cover means your premiums will be lower. However, the top Health Insurance policies all include at least some level of outpatient cover.
Treatment With Outpatient Cover
Without it, you have to rely on the NHS for outpatient tests and scans. This often slows up access to private inpatient care under your Health Insurance policy.
Treatment Without Outpatient Cover
How Much Does the Best Health Insurance Cost?
Premiums vary depending on your circumstances. To price your policy, an insurer looks at your:
- Smoker status
- Health and pre-existing medical history.
The cost of Health Insurance also depends on the above policy options you decide on. Ultimately, the more comprehensive Health Insurance becomes, the higher premiums will be.
For example, choosing add-ons such as psychiatric care or access to the best private hospitals in Central London will bump up the cost of cover.
To compare Health Insurance premiums in the table below, we’ve assumed each individual is:
- In good health
- A non-smoker
- Looking for comprehensive Private Medical Insurance covering inpatient and outpatient treatment in full
- Looking for a comprehensive nationwide hospital list
- Willing to pay a £250 excess upfront towards the cost of private medical treatment
- Wanting full cover for mental healthcare
- Living in the same postcode as our Brighton-based insurance advisers.
Which Is The Best Medical Underwriting?
With Health Insurance you can choose moratorium underwriting or full medical underwriting (FMU).
The most common form of underwriting. Moratorium excludes any medical condition you’ve had advice, treatment or medication for in the past 5 years.
This is usually on a 2 year rolling moratorium basis. Here, the insurer will consider any claims for medical conditions that you suffered in the 5 years before your policy started once you’e served at least 2 years on the policy without having any medical attention for that condition.
Full Medical Underwriting
Full medical underwriting (FMU) examines your entire medical history before you take out the policy. It then excludes all pre-existing conditions.
This means you know exactly what you are and aren’t covered for from the start. However, there’s usually very little opportunity to get exclusions removed.
Conditions you had more than 5 years ago aren’t generally taken into account when insurers underwrite you on a moratorium basis. However, they will most likely be examined when an insurer underwrites you on an FMU basis.
Which Should I Choose?
When you compare the two options, it all boils down to your medical history.
If you’ve had a minor medical condition in the past then an insurer might decide not to exclude it on an FMU basis once they’ve seen the medical evidence. This won’t likely be the case on a moratorium basis.
Ultimately, whether FMU is better than a moratorium really depends on you and your medical history. It is critical to get this right, which is where having an expert in your corner can help.
Who Are The Top 5 UK Private Health Insurance Companies in 2022?
The UK has a few major Health Insurance providers to compare. Each insurer has its own unique underwriting, policy options and pricing philosophy.
It is important to compare quotes from every provider to ensure you find the best Private Health Insurance policy for you.
How Do I Make Sure I Keep the Best Private Health Insurance?
Your insurer will write to you annually when your Health Insurance is up for renewal.
Each year you may find your premiums rise slightly. This is typically down to medical inflation, which reflects the growing cost of procedures, drugs and treatments.
It’s vitally important you regularly review your policy and premiums to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
As part of our service we take care of this for all our clients. If we find you cheaper or better cover elsewhere, we’ll also be able to help you switch insurers.
Why Is Private Healthcare Better?
Private healthcare isn’t necessarily ‘better’ than the NHS. Often the same consultants and surgeons will work for both the NHS and the private sector.
The main benefit in private healthcare over the NHS is largely the speed at which you’ll be treated. You will also have a choice of facilities you can visit and doctors you can see.
You can expect ensuite rooms and an environment where friends and family can enjoy round-the-clock visiting hours. There’ll also typically be a better quality of the dreaded hospital food! However, these are generally ‘nice to haves’ rather than essential healthcare services.
Will It Cover Pre-existing Conditions?
A personal health insurance policy is designed to cover unknown acute medical conditions. Anything that was pre-existing before taking out your policy is unlikely to be covered.
If you choose moratorium underwriting any condition you have suffered or received treatment for in the past 5 years will be excluded.
If you opt for full medical underwriting, any exclusions for existing health conditions will be declared from the outset.
Does Medical Insurance Cover Overseas Travel?
Some of the best UK policies include overseas travel cover for a set number of days per policy year as standard. There are also a number of options to upgrade your cover to include travel.
If you are spending significant time abroad then you may want to consider an international health insurance policy.
What’s the Best Way to Set Up a Policy?
You have two ways to set up Health Insurance. You can either go directly to the insurer or take out cover through an intermediary, such as Drewberry.
It’s important to recognise the difference in these approaches as one provides much more protection than the other.
Going Direct To An Insurer
When you buy cover from an insurer directly, it’s a non-advised sale.
As you have made the decision yourself there’s no financial protection should the policy be inappropriate. The responsibility lies on your shoulders.
Furthermore, in many ways you’ll find going direct to the insurer is much more work, especially if you’re seeking the best option for your needs. For example, you’ll need to approach every insurer on the market and compare quotes from all of them to find the best deal.
Once you’ve done your research and got your quotes, you’ll then also have to compare various policy documents. This includes all the medical and insurance jargon which will decide the policy which can offer you the best coverage.
Get Independent Financial Advice
Alternatively, you can use an independent Health Insurance expert, such as our expert team here at Drewberry.
This is especially important if you have pre-existing conditions. An expert adviser can use their market knowledge to secure the best terms depending on your circumstances.
Moreover, an adviser will not only do all the heavy lifting for you, comparing quotes but they’ll also provide an advised sale.
If their advice is not appropriate and the policy isn’t suitable, you’re financially protected.
Lastly, as expert advisers we do this day in, day out. That means we know the market, and all the policies and providers, inside out. We’re here to translate any complicated insurance and medical jargon for you if you have any questions.
Compare Health Insurance Quotes & Get Expert Advice
Finding the best Private Medical Insurance isn’t easy. There are multiple policy options to look at, all of which affect the cost of premiums but also the coverage on offer.
Some insurers will be better for your circumstances than others. For example, if you can afford a larger excess to keep premiums down, it may not make sense to limit yourself to a provider with £500 as its highest excess.
At Drewberry, searching for the best Health Insurance for our clients is our bread and butter. We do this every day, so we’ve got the expertise you need.
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 3311 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.
For help and fee-free advice comparing the best Private Health Insurance companies, don’t be afraid to pop us a call.
We’re available on 02074425880, or you can email email@example.com.