Who needs private health insurance?
Private health insurance is not obligatory in the UK.
The public health system (NHS) will treat anyone for free (including in hospitals), as long as they are a lawful resident in the UK, and are registered with the NHS.
In addition, it is useful to know that most private practices will accept patients on a “pay as you go” basis, meaning you do not have to have insurance to receive private medical treatment. However you will of course be asked to pay.
Lastly, many UK employers offer private health benefits to their employees, and their families, therefore we advise to always check this first before subscribing to anything else.
What does private health insurance cover?
Private health insurance can be useful if you want to receive faster treatment, or cover certain types of treatment, such as dentistry, optometry, mental health, etc.
Beware that most private health insurers do not cover recent pre-conditions (contrary to the NHS who will always cover any condition), for example conditions dating back 5 or 10 years. Always read your private health insurer’s contract carefully.
How much does it cost?
Private health insurances can cost anything from £30 to £500 a month (and beyond!), depending on what you wish to cover, if you smoke, how old you are, where you live, etc.
It is subscribed on a yearly basis, and renewed each year.
How to choose a provider
There are many providers of private health insurance, such as (but not limited to):
- Bupa: https://www.bupa.co.uk/health/health-insurance
- Axa https://www.axa.co.uk/health-insurance/
- Vitality https://www.vitality.co.uk/health-insurance/
- Aviva https://www.aviva.co.uk/health/health-products/health-insurance/
You can also use comparison websites to check several providers:
- Compare the Market https://www.comparethemarket.com/health-insurance/
- Go Compare https://www.gocompare.com/health-insurance/
How to register and subscribe
Most private health insurers will let you subscribe online. You can also give them a call to discuss details with them – in fact we recommend to do that, as private health insurance can be quite complex.
You will need to set up a Direct Debit if you are paying on a monthly basis. Therefore this is usually something our clients set up after their arrival in the UK, and once they have a UK bank account.