Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

The MoneySaving Forum: join to chat & swap tips with other MoneySavers. Learn how in the Forum Introduction Guide

Cheap Health Insurance Full cost-cutting plan

A quick message from Martin

All the latest deals, guides and loopholes go in MoneySavingExpert's
free weekly email. Don't miss out!

Get Martin's Money Tips email now!

Health insurance ain't cheap. It should be viewed as a luxury, not a necessity, given the NHS provides comprehensive medical treatment to anyone who needs it, regardless of their ability to pay.

But if you decide to get insurance, you need to know exactly what you've bought. This guide will take you through what health insurance covers, what to look out for, and where you can get the best deals.

What is health insurance?

Health insurance, also known as private medical insurance, covers the cost of private medical treatment for Ďacuteí medical conditions - diseases, illnesses or injuries likely to respond quickly to treatment. As we have the NHS, health insurance should not be viewed as a compulsory. You can get it by either buying it yourself or if your employer has a scheme as part of the benefits it offers.

People typically buy health insurance for three reasons; choice, speed and quality of facilities. Policyholders avoid NHS waiting lists. They receive faster consultations and private, usually more comfortable treatment but before you decide whether or not to buy it, ask yourself, do you need it?

Health insurance can cover the cost of private day patient surgery, tests and hospital accommodation.

But it may excludes trips to a GP, accident & emergency or an organ transplant. See inclusions and exclusions for more.

Health insurance need-to-knows

1Do I really need it?

There are a number of alternatives to health insurance. They include self-insurance, cash plans, workplace schemes and the NHS.

There are also a number of policy restrictions, so make sure you NEED it before you buy: Full info:

2It may not cover pre-existing conditions

Health insurance isnít designed to cover you for every health issue that might occur. It covers treatment for acute conditions that start after your policy begins - so you may still need treatment via the NHS in some cases. Full info:

3Your premiums will increase over time

Even though there's competition in the health insurance market, the sad fact is that whatever policy you choose, your premiums are likely to rise each year above the rate of general inflation. Full info:

4Lots of treatments are NOT covered

Your individual policy will outline exactly what you are and what you aren't covered for. There are some pretty standard inclusions and exclusions, such as a trip to A&E, normal pregnancy and cosmetic surgery. Full info:

Health insurance best buys

We got quotes from the big players in the market to see who comes out on top. To make it fair, all quotes have a zero excess (so you pay nothing towards a claim), unlimited outpatient care (these depend on what the doctor charges) and full cancer treatment coverage.

Health insurance policies aren't easy to compare, so we're never going to be able to provide a like-for-like comparison. Some areas of coverage are standard with some providers, optional with others; while some have discount offers for the first year or rewards programmes.

For a healthy, non-smoking 35-year-old man (correct as of October 2014):

Provider

£ per year

Aviva

£643

PruHealth

£655

Axa PPP

£773

Bupa

£855

Exeter Family Friendly

£1,141


For a healthy, non-smoking 70-year-old man
(correct as of October 2014):

Provider

£ per year

Saga

£1,538

Aviva

£1,982

PruHealth

£2,285

Axa PPP

£2,400

Bupa

£2,552

Exeter Family Friendly

£3,486


Best for discounts.
Full info:

Best for joint policies. Full info:

Best for extra perks. Full info:

Cutting the cost of cover

The price of cover depends on a number of factors. Obviously if you want all the bells and whistles, youíre going to pay more. If you want a more standard policy, which is likely to have many exclusions, then itís going to cost you less. As with any other type of insurance:

Your premium will go up if, and when, you claim.

However, there are still ways to cut down your costs. They include:

Don't miss out on updates to this guide Get MoneySavingExpert's free, spam-free weekly email full of guides & loopholes

I think I might have health insurance through my employer, do I need cover seperately?

What happens if I decide against the policy?

How easy is it to switch insurers?

Join in the Forum Discussion:
Cheap Health Insurance
If you haven't already

What the * means above

If a link has a * by it, that means it is an affiliated link and therefore it helps MoneySavingExpert stay free to use, as it is tracked to us. If you go through it, it can sometimes result in a payment to the site. It's worth noting this means the third party used may be named on any credit agreements.

You shouldnít notice any difference and the link will never negatively impact the product. Plus the editorial line (the things we write) is NEVER impacted by these links. We aim to look at all available products. If it isn't possible to get an affiliate link for the top deal, it is still included in exactly the same way, just with a non-paying link. For more details, read How This Site Is Financed.

Duplicate links of the * links above for the sake of transparency, but this version doesn't help MoneySavingExpert.com: Bupa, Confused.com, PMI Partners

Important FCA Note. Referring people to insurers or insurance intermediaries can in some circumstances constitute an FCA regulated activity. MoneySavingExpert.com Limited ("MSE") is part of the MoneySupermarket.com Group PLC ("MSM").

While this does not affect any content on our site, technically it means that pages with links which take you to the sites of insurers or insurance intermediaries are hosted by MSE on behalf of MSM.

MSM is an appointed representative of MoneySupermarket.com Financial Group Limited ("MSFG") which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA FRN: 303190). The registered office address of both MSM and MSFG is MoneySupermarket House, St. David's Park, Ewloe, Chester CH5 3UZ.

Cheap Travel Money

Find the best online rate for holiday cash with MSE's TravelMoneyMax.

Find the best online rate for your holiday cash with MoneySavingExpert's TravelMoneyMax.