Like most types of insurance, health cover doesn’t cost the same for everyone. But by making some smart choices, you can help make it more affordable for you.
Health insurance pays your private healthcare costs if you're diagnosed with an eligible, treatable condition. What you pay in premiums depends on a few things, but some of the main drivers are: your individual circumstances; the options you choose for your cover; and wider issues, like the cost of the healthcare services.
Here are some of the key factors that may affect what you pay.
How your circumstances may affect the cost of health insurance
Your personal circumstances play a part in deciding your premiums. An insurer might consider:
- Your age: the cost of cover may increase with age, as you may be more likely to make a claim the older you are
- Where you live: private healthcare costs more in some areas of the UK than others, so your location may play a part. It’s things like the facilities, accommodation and equipment that affect this, along with specialists’ fees
- Your claim history: the number of past claims you’ve made on a policy may impact your premiums at policy renewal time
How your choices may affect the cost of health insurance
When you apply for cover, there are a few ways that you can help shape your policy, and your premiums.
If you're given options to help personalise your health insurance, you can focus on your priorities and what suits your budget.
With our health insurance, you can choose from reduced, core and full cover. You decide which options are included on your policy, depending on what’s important to you, or you and your family.
Whichever you choose, inpatient and day patient hospital treatment and specialist fees, extensive cancer care, and some outpatient benefits, like surgical treatment and post-treatment diagnostic scans, are included as standard. You'll also have access to GP consultations around the clock, a stress counselling helpline, savings on gym services and online workouts, discounted lifestyle products, and offers at over 3,000 nationwide health and fitness clubs 1.
If you want to increase your cover, you can add options like mental health inpatient and day patient cover, and other treatments and therapies.
Of course, adding extras to your core cover, like routine dental treatment and optical expenses, can increase your premiums, while choosing more basic cover can help reduce what you pay.
If you also want to cover your partner and any children, your premiums may be higher than if the cover is just for you – though it can be cheaper than taking out two individual policies.
With our health cover, you may pay less if you add your partner to your policy than if you buy two individual policies. And, if you have two or more children aged 19 or under and add them to your policy, you'll only pay for the eldest 2.
You can choose from two types of underwriting when you apply for our health insurance. Full medical underwriting usually costs less than moratorium underwriting, but you’ll need to complete a full health questionnaire when you apply.
Switching your cover
You may think about switching your policy to another provider if you want different features, or a lower price than your renewal offer. Make sure you’re still covered for everything you need, though.
Daunted by the number of variables? You could start by considering your budget, and what's important to you, and then get a few quotes to compare your options.
Why is health insurance expensive?
Healthcare can cost a lot to carry out. Even straightforward procedures can be surprisingly expensive, and well beyond most people’s budgets, if billed directly for the NHS or private healthcare they receive. For example, a total knee replacement costs an average of £11,814 3. Insurers need to take account of this, among a number of things, when they work out premiums.
In the UK, you don't have to take out private health insurance, so make sure you could afford to pay the monthly premiums. But bear in mind that with flexible cover, you can reduce your options to what’s affordable for you.
Will premiums go up every year?
Health insurance premiums aren’t fixed and may increase over time.
One reason for this is that the cost of medical treatment, and supporting medical developments, rises over time, which is known as medical inflation. Important medical innovations that make treatments more effective may be more costly.
Also, insurers need to make sure that customers’ premiums reflect the overall cost of claims. Any pressures on healthcare services, such as more people living longer, can also contribute to increases in premiums. We take all this into account when we balance costs, to make sure you still get quality healthcare for affordable premiums.
Added to that, at each policy renewal, you’ll be older, which could also make your premiums rise. That's because as you get older, you may be more likely to make a claim.
Any claims you make on your policy may have an impact on your premiums, unless you've protected your no claim discount. But don’t worry, your insurer will let you know about any changes before your annual renewal. With our health insurance you can choose to protect your no claim discount.
How can you reduce the cost of health insurance?
There are a few ways that you may be able to reduce your premium.
Reduce what’s covered
With our health insurance, you can reduce your cover and remove some options that may be less important to you, to make your premiums lower. Here are some of the options you have to adjust your cover:
- NHS six-week option: if your inpatient or day patient treatment isn't available on the NHS within six weeks, you can have your treatment in a private hospital
- Agree to pay a policy excess: pay from £100 to £5,000 towards the cost of a claim – no more than once per person in a policy year
- Pick a reduced hospital list: such as hospitals in Scotland and Northern Ireland only, if that's where you live, or NHS Trust and Partnership private hospital units
Consider diagnostics only cover
With diagnostics insurance, you can bypass the NHS and claim privately for all diagnostic tests and consultations that lead to an initial diagnosis of your symptoms. It doesn't cover any treatment resulting from your diagnosis, but you will pay less than standard health insurance.
Track your health
Tools that manage and record your health and fitness can go some way towards helping to reduce your premiums. Insurers will often offer rewards if you can show you're sticking to a healthy lifestyle, or are taking steps towards improving your health.
By registering for our online health and wellbeing tool, MyHealthCounts, you could save money when it's time to renew your policy.
Take advantage of existing and new discounts
Some insurers offer discounts or existing customer benefits. If you have another policy with us, you may get a discount on our health insurance.
And if you take out a new health insurance policy with us, or switch from another provider, we guarantee your premiums won’t increase at first renewal, if you haven’t made a claim. Terms and conditions apply.
The best way to find out what health insurance will cost you is to get a quote. That way, you can make it suit your personal needs and circumstances. Try getting a quote for a few different levels of cover, to see how your premiums for each option stack up.