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Family health insurance

There’s nothing more important than safeguarding the health of you and your family.

While we’re lucky enough to have the NHS, several million people in the UK choose to take out private health insurance. Knowing what you get and whether it’s worth it can be hard to work out, so here’s what you need to know.

Why should I get family health insurance?

Private healthcare is designed to complement NHS services. Because NHS waiting times can be lengthy, many people turn to private health insurance to keep their families safe. You’d still need to go to an NHS A&E in an emergency, but having private insurance can offer the additional benefits of:

  • shorter waiting times
  • faster diagnosis and treatment
  • facilities such as a private room
  • possible access to medication not currently available on the NHS

As an individual policyholder, you can add family members so that you, your partner and your children are all covered under a single umbrella policy. This can work out cheaper than buying individual cover for each of your loved ones.

You may already have a joint policy with your partner or spouse, so it might make sense to opt for family health insurance when little ones come along.

What’s included in family health insurance?

This will vary by provider but, as a general rule, a good family health insurance policy should cover:

  1. inpatient treatment and a hospital stay for a planned procedure
  2. day patient treatment
  3. outpatient treatment and consultations

Most health insurance providers give you the flexibility of choosing optional extras including physiotherapy, dental care, specific cancer cover and home nursing, to help you tailor the policy to suit your family’s needs.

What’s not included in health insurance? 

Policies vary among insurance providers, but most won’t include: 

  • chronic conditions
  • standard birth procedures
  • cosmetic surgery, unless it’s medically necessary. 

Some pre-existing medical conditions may be covered by paying an extra premium, or if you meet specific criteria. Not all insurance providers offer this cover though, so if it’s something you’ll need, check carefully to make sure it’s included before committing to a policy.

How can you lower the cost of your family health insurance?

Typically, insurance providers let you tailor your package to fit your lifestyle, healthcare needs and budget. Inevitably, the younger, fitter and healthier you are, the more favourable your premiums will be.

Here's a few other ways you might be able to lower the cost of your premium:

  1. Six weeks option – you can agree to receive NHS care rather than private care if your consultants’ appointment is within six weeks of a referral.
  2. Keep extras to a minimum – extra cover, such as physiotherapy treatment for example, can increase the cost of your premiums, so consider whether you really need it.
  3. Excess – you can agree to pay a certain amount towards your treatment, much like you do with your car insurance excess.
  4. Pay annually – it usually works out cheaper than paying monthly.
  5. Reduce the choice of hospitals – you can agree to limit the range of hospitals you have access to.
  6. Live well – non-smokers will normally pay less, and some insurance providers will offer reduced premiums if you can prove you have a healthy lifestyle. For example, if you have a healthy weight or go to the gym regularly.
  7. Speak to your employer – they may offer a discounted health insurance scheme and often, they’ll let you add family members to your policy.

If you’re more concerned about paying for routine treatments like dental work, which is provided by the NHS but at a cost, you could consider a health cash plan instead.

With a health cash plan, you pay a certain amount per month to receive a maximum agreed payout towards ongoing or routine healthcare. This usually works out cheaper than paying for health insurance. But it’s worth tallying up what you usually spend on healthcare in a year, to make sure it’s worth it.

What else should I think about before taking out a policy? 

Before deciding which health insurance policy is right for you and your family, consider things like: 

  • How old you are – some policies have a maximum age limit for adults and children.
  • The sort of treatment you’re most likely to need; for example, young children may benefit from extra dental care cover.
  • Activities and sports that may increase your family’s need for physiotherapy.
  • Your family’s health history and how it may affect what’s included and excluded – check carefully to see if any existing medical conditions will be covered.
  • Hereditary conditions – if there is a history of a certain disease in your family, such as cancer or heart disease, make sure you’ll be covered for treatment.
  • If you or a family member has a disability, check to see if your policy covers treatment related to that disability.
  • How often you travel abroad – most health insurance providers won’t cover you outside the UK, so you’ll need separate travel insurance.

Frequently asked questions

Can we get health insurance as a couple?

Yes, there are joint health insurance policies that cover healthcare and treatment costs for you and your spouse or partner. They could work out cheaper than buying individual policies, but make sure any cover suits both your needs.

Do I need family health insurance if I’m covered through my work?

If you have private health insurance as part of an employment benefits package, it will most likely only cover you, not your family. You might be able to extend the cover and add your family, in which case, you won’t need separate family health insurance. 

But if you can’t add your family, you may want to consider separate cover for them. Also bear in mind that if you leave your job, you’ll no longer be covered by your employment benefits package.

Will my family need medicals to be covered?

As long as there are no pre-existing medical conditions, your family won’t need medicals to get cover. You’ll just need to fill out a family medical history form.

Does family health insurance cover sports activities?

Some health insurance providers won’t cover dangerous sports like surfing, skydiving or climbing. And you’re unlikely to be covered if you play professionally. If someone in your family plays amateur team sports like football or rugby, they might be covered by their club. 

Check the terms and conditions before buying a policy, to see if it covers sports injuries. If not, you may want to consider taking out specific sports-related cover. Just be aware that you might not be covered for pre-existing sports injuries.

Can my family still use the NHS?

Absolutely. Even with private health insurance, your family will still have a right to free NHS care. The NHS will also treat you for things that aren’t covered by your family health insurance – for example, emergency care or a pre-existing condition.

Where can I compare family health insurance?

Comparing family health insurance with us couldn’t be easier. Just send us a few details and we’ll send you a list of potential providers to choose from.

Compare family health insurance quotes quickly and easily, and find a policy that gives you the peace of mind you and your family need. 

How much does family health insurance cost?

The cost of family health insurance varies from policy to policy. It depends on a number of factors, including how many family members you want to insure, the level of cover you need, and the health and lifestyle of your family.

When you compare with us, you can choose from different options to find the cover you need, at a price that fits your budget.

Mubina Pirmohamed

Insurance expert

What our expert says

“There’s nothing more important to us than our family’s health. With family health insurance you can cut down on waiting times and get access to treatment that may not be available on the NHS. Should the worst happen, you can be reassured that your family will get the best possible care.”

What do I need to get a quote?

To start comparing family health insurance with us, we’ll need a few details about:

  • how many family members you want to insure
  • the level of cover – if you want to be covered for diagnosis as well as treatment
  • the maximum excess you want to pay
  • if you or any family member is a smoker
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