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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. It can be hard to work out what’s included under your policy – and whether it’s worth the money – so here’s what you need to know.

Why should I get family health insurance?

There are a few reasons why people opt for private health insurance. NHS waiting times can be long so many people go private to access faster treatment. Even with private healthcare in place, you’ll still need to go to an NHS A&E in an emergency, but you’ll be able to benefit from:

  • Shorter waiting times
  • Faster diagnosis and treatment
  • Private rooms and more luxurious hospitals
  • Potential access to medication unavailable on the NHS.

You can add your partner and children to your policy so the whole family is covered. This is often cheaper than buying individual cover for each family member.

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

What does family health insurance cover?

Family health insurance policies vary, depending on the insurance provider. But, as a general rule, a good policy should cover:

  • Inpatient treatment and a hospital stay for a planned procedure
  • Day patient treatment
  • Outpatient treatment and consultations.

Most health insurance providers let you choose extras, such as physiotherapy, dental care, specific cancer cover and home nursing. That way you can tailor your policy to suit your family’s needs. You might also want to check whether your policy covers testing and diagnosis.

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What doesn’t health insurance cover?

Again, policies vary, but most won’t cover you for:

  • Chronic conditions
  • Giving birth
  • Cosmetic surgery (unless medically necessary).

What happens if I have a pre-existing medical condition?

Health insurance generally doesn’t cover pre-existing medical conditions. However, you may be able to get around this by paying an extra premium or meeting certain criteria. If you have a pre-existing condition, check your policy wording carefully to make sure you’re covered.

How can I reduce the cost of my family health insurance?

Insurance providers typically let you tailor your package to fit your lifestyle, budget and healthcare needs. Inevitably, the younger, fitter and healthier you are, the cheaper your premiums will be.

There are other ways that you could potentially lower the cost of your premium:

  1. Six weeks option – you can agree to receive NHS, rather than private, care if your appointment is within six weeks of a referral.
  2. Keep extras to a minimum – extras, such as physiotherapy, could increase the cost of your premiums so consider whether you really need them.
  3. Excess – you can increase the amount you pay towards any treatment, much like you do with car insurance.
  4. Pay annually – this is usually cheaper than paying monthly as you won’t be charged interest.
  5. Reduce the choice of hospitals – you can agree to limit the range of hospitals you have access to.
  6. Live well – non-smokers normally pay less, while some insurance providers offer reduced premiums if you can prove you have a healthy weight or regularly visit the gym.
  7. Speak to your employer – they may offer a discounted health insurance scheme and will often let you add family members to your policy.

If you’re looking to cover routine treatments, such as dental work, you might want to consider a health cash plan instead.

What’s a health cash plan?

With a health cash plan, you pay a set amount each month in return for a payout towards routine healthcare, such as dental or optician’s appointments. This is usually cheaper than a health insurance policy but won’t give you the same access to medical treatment.

What else should I think about before taking out health insurance?

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

  • Your age – some policies have a maximum age limit for adults and children.
  • The sort of treatment you’re likely to need. For example, children may benefit from extra dental cover.
  • Activities and sports that might 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 are covered.
  • Hereditary conditions – if your family has a history of, say, cancer or heart disease, make sure you’ll be covered for treatment.
  • If you or a family member has a disability, check that your policy covers any related treatment.
  • 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, you can buy joint health insurance policies that cover treatment costs for you and your spouse or partner. These could be cheaper than buying individual policies, but make sure the cover suits both your needs.

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

If your employer offers private health insurance as part of an employment benefits package, it will most likely only cover you, not your family. You may be able to extend your cover to add your family. If that’s the case, you won’t need family health insurance.

If you can’t add your family to your work policy, you might want to consider separate cover for them. You’ll also need to bear in mind that if you leave your job, your employment benefits package will no longer cover you.

Will my family need a medical to access cover?

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 sport professionally. If someone in your family plays amateur team sports, such as football or rugby, they might be covered by their club.

Before you buy a policy, check the terms and conditions to see if it covers sports injuries. If not, you may want to add specific sports-related cover. Just be aware that you probably won’t be covered for any pre-existing injuries.

Can my family still use the NHS?

Absolutely. Even with private health insurance, your family still has a right to free NHS care. The NHS will also treat you for eventualities that your family health insurance doesn’t cover – emergency care, for example, 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 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. How much you pay will depend on a number of factors, including how many family members you want to insure, the level of cover you need and your family’s health and lifestyle.

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

Author image Tim Knighton

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 might not be available on the NHS. Should one of your family get sick, you can be reassured that they’ll get the best possible care.”

- Tim Knighton, Life, health and income protection insurance expert

Why use Compare the Market?

We compare 16 private health insurance providers[1] Get a health insurance quote in just 4 minutes[1]

Correct as of June 2024.
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What do I need to get a quote?

To start comparing family health insurance with us, we’ll need to know:

How many family members you want to insure

  • How much cover you’d like
  • The maximum excess you want to pay
  • If you or any family member is a smoker.
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