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How Much Is Private Health Insurance?

We all want to get ourselves protected against any future medical ailments. Considering the growing backlog of the NHS, the thought of obtaining private health care may cross your mind.

When researching private health care, one of the most burning questions is, “how much is this going to cost me?” While most of the UK population wouldn’t be able to front the direct cost of private health care, health insurance can help
cover the costs.

“So, how much will private health insurance cost, then?” This guide analyzes the costs between private health care and medical insurance. It aims to paint a picture of how much you can expect to pay monthly, considering your
circumstances.

We begin by getting an overview of how private health care works in the UK, and how private medical insurance works around the service.

An Overview of Private Health Care

Many would ask why we would need private health care options when we have the NHS? The service is excellent. It’s free and can see to me when I have medical issues.

While the NHS is a brilliant service that we are lucky to have, it has faced strain and pressure. That’s due to growing UK populations and backlogs and waiting lists in recent years. The NHS also sees budget restrictions to cater to the
entire public, so some stays in the facilities may not be as comfortable as some would prefer.

That’s why private medical options have come into fruition. Private health care provides medical facilities with top specialists, dedicated service, comfortable rooms, and quicker, more advanced treatments.

However, as beneficial as private health care is, the services come at an expense. The costs of consultations and treatments often exceed what those in the UK can afford for medical treatment.

So what makes private health care so costly?

What Determines the Cost of Private Health Care?

The government does not support private medical facilities and their personnel. They operate entirely independently without any subsidies or contributions from governmental health organizations.

That means the facility is a for-profit company and charges for using their private medical services. The value proposition behind using private health care is that they offer a better, more personalized service than the NHS.

To fulfill that key selling point,

private health care facilities need to offer the very best in doctors, treatments, and care personnel. They will bring advanced technologies, cutting-edge medicines, and top-rated specialists into their organization to deliver the
best possible medical care.

Those assets to create a better health care environment are not cheap. That’s why private health care services have such great expense – they must pay for quality assets to deliver their mission statement.

To understand the costs of private health care in the UK, we can outline examples of treatments and procedures.

What are the Costs of Private Health Care without Insurance?

See the table below highlighting examples of costs behind private health care in the UK when one does not have health insurance.

Private Health Care Treatment Average Cost
Knee replacement £11,814
Hip replacement £10,776
Cataract surgery £2,417
CT Scan £668
Cardiac pacemaker insertion £10,000
Hernia repair £2,860
Skin lesion removal £1,395
Coronary angiogram £2,066
Gallbladder removal (Laparoscopic) £6,350
Gastric bypass £10,200

As noted, surgeries can rise to tens of thousands of pounds. Even trivial diagnostic tests such as CT scans would be in the hundreds.

You may question these figures as only being affordable to a small segment of the population in the United Kingdom. How would most people afford private health care should we want the option?

Is There a Way to Afford Private Health Care?

That’s where private health insurance plays a crucial role. It’s a service that gives anyone in the UK access to private health care in exchange for a monthly premium.

Should you find interest in covering yourself for private health care options in the future, the insurance may be beneficial.

Why Should I Get Private Medical Insurance?

We compare plans from the leading health insurance providers

Suppose you worry about your future health and want arguably better, more efficient health care in the private sector. In that case, you may want to take out private medical insurance. The critical concern is that the
plans may not fit the budget that you have for yourself, as complete coverage would see the cost relatively high.

However, there are many options in private health insurance policies. You can tailor one to fit your needs and what you can afford. Understanding private medical insurance is crucial to getting a policy right for you.

Understanding Private Health Insurance


Private health insurance isn’t just one plan that covers the health care costs of every medical issue you have. The policies often have conditions and options that cover what you’re concerned about and make premiums less.

The first important note about private health insurance is that it will only cover medical conditions that arise after you’ve signed on to the policy. The plan will not cover anything you currently have or what is known as pre-existing
conditions.

The next significant aspect of private health insurance is three general tiers of coverage. Those include:

  • Basic – Overnight private hospital treatments (inpatient care) covered by the insurance
  • Mid-range – Hospital stays and someday treatments (outpatient care) covered
  • Comprehensive – Most inpatient and outpatient care covered

There are options to include a range of other health coverage options such as mental, dental, and optical. However, every add-on will drive up the price of premiums.

Why Can Private Medical Insurance Get Expensive?

Many insurers will offer private health insurance at reasonable rates. But extenuating factors drive up the costs, like the add-ons mentioned above.

Comprehensive coverage is the most expensive as it will cover almost every acute condition, where you’ll receive private health care. However, basic may have more budget-friendly costs.

The flexibility involved in the policy forming process can make private medical insurance more expensive. We can go into greater detail to understand the factors that determine the monthly premiums of private health
insurance.

Remember, if you consider taking out a policy, don’t let the cheapest premium be why you purchase private health insurance. The best plans are the ones with the coverage you need for the lowest price. Speak with a broker about your
requirements to walk you through how to get the right policy.

What Factors Determine Prices of Private Medical Insurance?

The first thing we’ll look at when discovering what determines the monthly premiums of private medical insurance is a general overview of those factors. They centralize around your current health, lifestyle, and location (hospitals can
be more expensive in certain areas).

There are also external factors involving the networked private medical facilities that can impact the cost. We’ll break down those crucial factors in different sections below.

General

  • Age – Your age is one of the most significant factors that affect the cost of health insurance. The general principle is that younger people won’t require as much care. Therefore, the premium would be less
    expensive. In contrast, older people might claim more, meaning their policies would be more costly.
  • Postcode – The insurer considers the average cost of treatment in your area, which reflects on your premiums.
  • Current Health – Your current health refers to whether you’ve suffered from medical conditions in the past or currently. The policy also looks at general lifestyle habits, such as a smoker.
  • Level of coverage – Whether you choose basic, mid-range, or comprehensive levels of coverage will affect the monthly premiums.
  • Options and limits – If you place limits, excesses, or add-ons on your policy, the premium price could go up or down.

You may want to understand more about what drives private medical insurance costs outside this general outlook. We can elaborate on some of these terms in the sections below.

Underwriting

You may have heard the term ‘underwriting’ before in insurance. The same principles apply to reviewing your health condition through a ‘medical underwriting’ procedure that determines what kind of cover you get, price, conditions, and
restrictions of your policy.

The most prominent types of medical underwriting are:

Moratorium Underwriting

Suppose you’ve had any health conditions before applying for the policy over the past five years. In that case, they’ll get excluded from the procedure. However, if you haven’t had them for two years since you joined, they’ll get
reintroduced for coverage in the plan.

This type of underwriting is the quickest to process your policy application because it doesn’t check your medical history. A moratorium may be a cheaper option, but the claims process can get more complicated, which ultimately might
leave you unknowing what conditions get covered.

Full Medical Underwriting

In contrast, full medical underwriting (FMU) will ask for your complete medical history and pre-existing conditions. The information serves as the groundwork to calculate the cost and cover of your plan.

The benefits of full medical underwriting will make the claims process more manageable. You may also get coverage for pre-existing conditions. The analysis determines and informs right away what conditions get covered.

Medical History Disregarded

Medical history disregarded (MHD) means that there are no conditions to joining the policy. The insurer will accept any pre-existing conditions into the plan.

Hospitals

The cost of private hospitals in the UK varies quite significantly in some cases. The determining factors behind the pricing in hospitals are equipment, staffing, upkeep costs, and accommodation facilities.

Generally, you’ll see private hospitals in cities like London be notably more expensive than ones in rural areas. That’s because the cost of operations is much higher there.

Insurers will note your location and inquire about what kind of private hospital network you want in your plan. If you wish to a vast number of hospitals that you can visit, the price of your premium will be higher. Should you limit the
facilities you can attend, the cost will be lower.

If any condition should arise, you may have personal preferences behind what private hospitals you’d like to visit. Some may be close to you, so you’d include them as a matter of convenience. Another scenario is that you may feel better
knowing you have access to countrywide hospitals.

Insurers will try to make deals with hospitals to keep prices down as much as possible. However, some city hospital network costs will inevitably be higher.

Excess

Applying excesses to your policy is a method to keep down the cost of your monthly premiums. A private health insurance excess is what you are willing to pay upfront to cover the cost of your treatment.

For example, if a private treatment costs £250 and you’ve agreed to a £100 excess – you’ll pay £100 for that treatment where the insurer will cover £150.

The more you agree to pay in excess, the lower your premiums. However, it’s essential to be realistic about what you can afford upfront to pay for treatments should you choose this option.

In the UK, you’ll generally find that the excess tiers are £0, £100, £250, £500, and £1000. The ways that you pay them fall into two categories:

  • Per Year – The agreed excess is only paid every year. This agreement means that once policyholders have paid their agreed amount (i.e., £500) throughout the year. They will not have to pay anymore – the insurer will
    cover the costs of any more private health care.
  • Per Claim – Should you agree to a per claim basis, you will pay the excess every time you make a claim.

Lifestyle

Lifestyle factors do find consideration when applying for a private medical insurance policy. Insurers will inquire into your smoker status, alcohol intake, and other factors such as weight.

Smoking is the lifestyle factor that has the most significant impact on premiums. Should you continue to smoke, you’ll see your tips at a higher cost than a non-smoker, no matter your age.

Insurers believe that the threat of disease associated with smoking poses a risk to their coverage, compensating through higher premiums.

It’s important to note that if you plan to quit, you must not have smoked for at least 12-months to qualify as a non-smoker.

Location

We mentioned earlier that access to hospitals in specific locations could raise your premiums. The same applies to your postcode in the United Kingdom.

Some regions in the UK identify as having significantly higher claims ratios than others. A few factors may determine why your postcode sees more private health insurance claims.

But in any case, the cost of premiums will be higher in regions with more claims.

Age

Age is a crucial determiner of how much your private medical insurance will cost. As you get older in age, the premiums will rise. You will require more health care as you age and are more likely to make a claim.

What are the Average Costs of Private Health Insurance?

Finding the average costs of private medical policies can be challenging because of all the factors listed in this guide. However, we’ve compiled some guides to give prospective policyholders an idea of what they can expect to pay for
their monthly premiums.

We note that these costs are estimates based on the above factors and are subject to change. Remember to inquire with your insurer about the price of monthly premiums tailored to your plan.

Let’s first look at the monthly premiums regarding levels of coverage.

By Coverage

Coverage is one of the more straightforward averages to factor in because it splits into three tiers. These tables look at costs considering your age, how much excess you’ve agreed to, and that the policyholder is a smoker.

Cost Comparison: 25-year-old Smoker

Policy Type £0 Excess £250 Excess £500 Excess £1,000 Excess
Basic £35 £32 £29 £28
Intermediate £55 £39 £36 £33
Comprehensive £80 £58 £51 £41

Cost Comparison: 35-year-old Smoker

Policy Type £0 Excess £250 Excess £500 Excess £1,000 Excess
Basic £40 £35 £31 £28
Intermediate £60 £47 £41 £35
Comprehensive £85 £67 £55 £46

Cost Comparison: 45-year-old Smoker

Policy Type £0 Excess £250 Excess £500 Excess £1,000 Excess
Basic £63 £51 £45 £35
Intermediate £80 £65 £57 £43
Comprehensive £115 £90 £75 £67

Cost Comparison: 55-year-old Smoker

Policy Type £0 Excess £250 Excess £500 Excess £1,000 Excess
Basic £88 £82 £68 £58
Intermediate £108 £105 £77 £67
Comprehensive £151 £130 £117 £900

As you can see, the trend is that the price of premiums rises as you get older in age due to the increased risks of injury, illness, or disease. The assumption is that you will need to make more claims.

But what if you don’t smoke? You can expect to see the prices seen here drop by about 25-30% as a non-smoker.

By Insurer

We can look at the average costs by comparing a few of the top insurers in the United Kingdom.

This policy scenario includes a man in his 30s, a non-smoker, living in London, and looking for basic health insurance coverage with a £100 excess. Find the results below:

Insurance Provider Monthly Premium Inpatient Cover Outpatient Cover
Freedom £44.06 Full Cover None
Bupa £49.29 Full Cover Limited
AXA £59.95 Full Cover None
The Exeter £64.69 Full Cover None
Aviva £73.69 Full Cover None

In this scenario, we’ll look at insurance for a woman in her 50s, a non-smoker, wanting mid-range coverage with £250 excess.

Insurance Provider Monthly Premium Inpatient Cover Outpatient Cover
Freedom £54.10 Full Cover Limited to £1500
Bupa £50.20 Full Cover Limited
AXA £68.44 Full Cover Limited
The Exeter £71.14 Full Cover Limited to £500
Aviva £82.16 Full Cover Limited to £500

Finally, we’ll review a comprehensive scenario with a man in his 40s, non-smoker, with comprehensive coverage and no excess

Insurance Provider Monthly Premium Inpatient Cover Outpatient Cover
Freedom £69.03 Full Cover Full Cover
Bupa £93.83 Full Cover Full Cover
AXA £117.05 Full Cover Full Cover
The Exeter £138.56 Full Cover Full Cover
Aviva £136.47 Full Cover Full Cover

Some of these costs have increased benefits specific to the insurer. Please inquire with your broker or read more about what each provider offers with their private medical insurance.

What Makes the Premiums of an Existing Policy Rise?

So finally, with costs considered, what factors could cause my health insurance premiums to rise should I take out a policy? We look at the general causes below:

  • Inflation – Inflation on global products can have an impact on how much your premiums may rise.
  • Medical Inflation – Products and services in the medical industry may see their costs rise, and that will reflect on your monthly premiums.
  • Age – As you get older in age, your premiums may start to climb even if you’ve never made a claim.
  • Claims – The more claims you make, the more the price of premiums at your renewal date. However, many insurers will offer discounts for those who don’t make claims for extended periods.

Other extraordinary factors can make your existing policy prices increase. Should you have any queries or concerns about what causes costs to hike, speak with your current insurer.

A Summary of How Much Private Health Insurance Costs

So with all that analysis about how much you can expect to pay for private medical insurance, let’s review this guide into a more palatable, few points.

  • Private health care is a more quality, efficient way to tend to your medical needs, but it comes at a high cost.
  • Many take out private medical insurance to afford private medical care.
  • Several factors affect the prices of your policy, including age, coverage, lifestyle, and more.
  • Average costs in policies can significantly vary depending on these factors.
  • The UK’s top insurers will offer competitive rates with unique benefits in their policies.

Should you wish to learn more about taking out a private medical policy, speak to an insurer or broker. Ensure that you discuss what you desire to get covered in a plan, so they can work with you in finding the most affordable, tailored
policy.

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