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Best Private Health Insurance UK – Find The Best Coverage For You

Looking to buy medical insurance in the United Kingdom? This list of best private health insurance UK would guide you on where to purchase one. We have reviewed the best private medical insurance companies in the United Kingdom so you can choose from when you need comprehensive health insurance.

In this article, I will show you how to choose the best private medical insurance UK and the cost of private medical insurance in the United Kingdom.

There are many health insurance companies in the United Kingdom with amazing offerings and benefits. Sorting through them when you want to secure insurance can be burdensome even with an online comparison website or tool.

To save you from the stress of having to sort through an insurance provider that would cater to your health insurance needs, I have come up with this list of private medical insurance companies to choose from. Anyone of the companies you find on this list is capable of giving you the best health insurance cover that would adequately match your needs.

Just so you are not confused, it is needful for me to clear the air on the difference between health insurance and private medical insurance. In the United Kingdom, health insurance is called private medical insurance and they are used interchangeably.

As you go through this article, you are going to see me use both terms. They are the same thing. You do not have to be confused about the concepts.

What is private health insurance?

You pay a monthly sum to the insurer, then it pays for certain private treatment you may need during the policy, such as consultations or surgery.

Put simply, private health insurance – or private medical insurance (PMI) – is a policy that covers the cost of private medical care should you become unwell. It works alongside the NHS, and often gives you access to shorter wait times, a choice of location or treatments only offered privately.  

What does and doesn’t it cover?

Health insurance is designed to cover you for non-routine tests and treatment for acute conditions (serious but curable and usually short-lived) that start after your policy begins. Therefore many chronic (often incurable, long-term issues such as arthritis or asthma) and pre-existing conditions are excluded as standard.

The exact range of medical treatments covered will vary based on the policy and the price you pay, though here are some examples: 

  • Tests or surgery as an inpatient (where you need to stay in hospital)
  • Hospital accommodation and nursing care
  • Consultations, tests and therapy as an outpatient (no stay required)
  • Medicine or drugs not available on the NHS

Basic plans usually cover essential treatments, whereas comprehensive cover can also include specialist therapies or medicines.

Typical conditions that are covered include musculoskeletal problems (eg, short-term back pain), digestive system conditions (eg, gastroenteritis), cancer, heart and circulatory diseases (eg, coronary heart disease) and eye and ear conditions (eg, an inner ear infection).

If your tests lead to a diagnosis of a chronic condition, the initial tests are usually covered, but the long term treatment isn’t. For example, if you developed symptoms of diabetes and your GP referred you to a specialist to diagnose the issue, your policy should cover this. However if you are then diagnosed with diabetes, any treatment, mediation or check-ups would no longer be covered, and would instead pass to the NHS. 

It’s different from a critical illness insurance policy. Private health insurance pays for medical treatment to get you better, whereas critical illness pays out a lump sum to help offset any loss in income. A critical illness could be defined differently by each policy, but could include Alzheimer’s or presenile dementia, cardiac arrest, deafness, loss of speech, paralysis of a limb, stroke or brain injury.

Best Private Health Insurance UK

With that, these are the best private medical insurance companies in the UK for 2021:

  • BUPA Health Insurance
  • AXA Health Insurance
  • Aviva Health Insurance
  • Vitality Health Insurance (formerly PruHealth)
  • Health-On-Line Insurance
  • Saga Health Insurance
  • Freedom Health Insurance
  • CS Healthcare Insurance

The list above is only a part of the many health insurance companies in the United Kingdom. We have reviewed them so you can find the one that would fit your needs.


1: BUPA Health Insurance Review

BUPA is a household name in the health insurance industry. They sell the most health insurance policies in all of the UK and their coverage is quite excellent.

At BUPA, health insurance is in two levels. There is the Comprehensive cover as well as the Treatment and Care cover.

In the Comprehensive cover, which is the top-level cover, policyholders enjoy coverage for diagnosis, consultations, MRIs, CT scans, diagnostic tests, therapies, and more. It covers the cost of complete treatment including hospital and out-patient treatments.

Policyholders enjoy NHS diagnosis and private treatments in the Treatment and Care cover from BUPA.

The health insurance policies at BUPA have fewer options compared to other companies even on this list. One can only decide the level of out-patient and cancer cover you want and the amount of excess you are comfortable with.

According to a publication in December 2012, BUPA has served insurance cover to over 2.7 million UK citizens are a huge percentage of these customers have praises for the insurance company.

2: AXA Health Insurance Review

AXA PPP health insurance is considered the major competitor of BUPA in the United Kingdom. They are the second-largest provider of health insurance in the United Kingdom.

The AXA Health Select policy allows intending policyholders to choose from nine (9) options to enhance the basic cover they provide. Other add-ons from AXA include:

  • ‘Extra Care’ cover oral surgery and home care
  • Therapies
  • Out-patient treatment
  • Dental treatment
  • Medical travel insurance
  • Mental health
  • Optician cashback

The company does not just provide private medical insurance alone, they also underwrite for some of the companies mentioned in this list as I would show you subsequently.

Aviva Health Insurance Review

Aviva happens to provide almost every type of insurance cover known in the United Kingdom. As one of the UK’s largest insurance companies, Aviva offers travel insurancebusiness insurancecar insurance, health insurance, and much more.

For health insurance, Aviva offers a policy level called Healthier Solutions which can be tailored to provide a comprehensive cover by the available add-on options. You have the liberty to choose the level of excess you pay and also choose the hospitals you would like to receive care from.

The company lets you add more cover options such as psychiatric treatment, cover for dental and optical treatment, and therapies. There are policies for specific health challenges at Aviva such as Cancer Essentials, Physio Essentials, and Child Health Essentials.

You can get quotes from Aviva online through its website.


3: Vitality Health Insurance

Vitality Insurance offers both health insurance and life insurance. Formerly, Vitality health insurance was called PruHealth and they have got a unique offering in the health insurance market in the UK.

Together with its healthcare offer, the company adds rewards and discounts for healthy activities. According to them, when you are healthier you claim less.

To monitor your healthy activities and determine if you are eligible for its discounts and reward, Vitality will have you put on logging trips when you hit the gym.

4: Health-On-Line Insurance

This is a new insurance company founded in 2000 with a mission to changing the health insurance approach in the United Kingdom. The company has since grown rapidly and they were reported to have paid up to 800 million in claims in 2013.

Health-On-Line insurance is a subsidiary of the AXA Group. The two companies are so much integrated that depending on your needs, personnel from the company can choose to sell Health-on-Line policy or AXA policy.

One of the assurances this company comes with is that they make the health insurance process easy. The company claims to give policyholders the liberty to control their coverage and tailor their policy to suit their needs by offering modules.

Health-On-Line insurance offers four types of cover namely:

  • Priority Diagnostic policy
  • Personal Health cover
  • Health For You policy
  • Heart and Cancer cover

5: Saga Health Insurance

This company’s specialty is in providing health insurance for persons above 50. Their policies cover hospital bills, surgery fees, cancer treatments, diagnostic tests, dental surgery, and psychiatric treatment.

At Saga, policyholders can reduce the limits of their cover and lower premium cost or increase premiums to enjoy more coverage. AXA is the underwriter of Saga. Together with AXA’s underwriting and Saga’s focus on the 50s, older people now have health insurance products tailored for them.

6: Freedom Health Insurance

Truly Freedom health insurance lives up to its name. They give UK citizens a level of freedom that is never seen in all of the United Kingdom health insurance industry.

At Freedom, one can choose a cover for a similar range of conditions and treatments to other health insurance policies but they pay claims differently.

Normally, when you want to file a health insurance claim, you would get treated, file the claim, and your insurer will pay the bills to the hospital or doctor. Sometimes, you would not need to file the claim yourself as the hospital’s billing department would fill a CMS-1500 and send it to your insurer.

The similarity in both instances is that your health insurer pays claims to your healthcare provider but at Freedom, it is not so.

When you file a claim at Freedom, they pay you cash directly. This allows you to choose what hospital or doctor you would want to receive attention from. You can use NHS and decide to keep the money.

7: CS Health Insurance

Last but not least is CS Health Insurance Company. They are particular about providing health insurance for persons in the civil service or anyone offering voluntary or charitable services. It is a great choice if you fall in any of the categories highlighted.

How to Choose the Best Private Medical Insurance Company UK 2021

If you want to choose the best private medical insurance company for your health insurance needs, there are a couple of factors you ought to consider. These factors include:

  • Kind of coverage you want

The coverage you need determines the kind of private medical insurer to go for. Every company has strings of coverage options they offer, while some have an allowance for tailoring coverage, you must be on the lookout for companies that offer just what you want.

  • Flexibility

This is an important factor to consider. Some insurance companies are very rigid with how they offer their policies and packages. I recommend you choose a company that allows you to choose the level of coverage you get and the number of premiums you pay.

  • Specificity

Your choice of a health insurance company may be because you need coverage for a particular illness or disease. It could also be probably because you need access to a particular drug. This should inform your decision when choosing a good private medical insurer.

For instance, it is not every insurer that provides dental care. In the list above, you will see that only AXA, Aviva, and Saga offers dental care cover. So, if what you need insurance for is dental care, you should not be going for BUPA, Vitality, Freedom, e.t.c.

  • Access to hospitals and treatments

The kind of hospitals and treatment an insurance company is willing to provide shows the level of coverage they are willing to offer. A good insurer should give you access to better healthcare services, hospitals, and treatment.

Before I wrap up this article, let’s talk about the cost of private medical insurance in the UK.


Cost of Private Medical Insurance in the United Kingdom

It is impossible to give a specific amount as the cost of private medical insurance in the United Kingdom as the cost varies from company to company and is also dependent on the intending policyholder.

Insuring an old person who spent a great deal of his or her life smoking and drinking would be more expensive than insuring a young person who does not engage in any of such vices.

On average, young people can pay up to 20 per month while older persons have premium rates nearing 100 per month. This is what the cost of private medical insurance in the United Kingdom looks like.

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