A simples guide

How do I choose a good family health insurance plan?

Yours and your family’s health is paramount, so it’s a good thing that in the UK we have access to free healthcare on the NHS. But sometimes you might want reassurance that you’re not going to have to wait for ages for treatment or consultations. If that’s the case, what options do you have and what exactly do family health insurance policies provide?


What is health insurance?

Having health insurance (or private medical insurance) gives you access to private medical treatment and consultations. It usually gives quicker access to a consultant, more choice over who treats you and when.

You don’t have to take out health insurance if you’re happy to use the NHS service but it can give you peace of mind and ensure you have access to quick treatment.

toy heart and stethoscope

What does private health insurance cover?

Policies differ according to provider so you’ll need to check what’s on offer, but here are some common features:

• Tests, whether you’re an in-patient (if you need to stay in hospital overnight) or day patient (if you don’t need to stay in hospital)
• Tests and scans to diagnose conditions
• Surgery, whether you’re an in-patient or day patient
• Hospital accommodation and nursing care
• Access to drugs that may not be on the NHS

You’ll also get certain benefits with health insurance such as reduced waiting times, more choice of scans and quicker access to specialist treatment such as physiotherapy which can be limited on the NHS.

What won’t I get with private health insurance?

You won’t usually be covered if you have a pre-existing condition or if you have a chronic condition such as diabetes or epilepsy. Health insurance also doesn’t cover you for organ transplants or conventional pregnancy and childbirth costs – it also won’t cover you for cosmetic surgery.

Private healthcare doesn’t mean better healthcare, it’s more about giving you more options and quicker treatment. Doctors often work for both the private healthcare sector and for the NHS, they’re unbiased and won’t be saving their best doctoring for people who pay more. So you’re not necessarily paying for improved medical skills.

However, you should check you’ve got local options as policies use approved lists of consultants and hospitals, it may cost more to have a greater choice of locations.

paper cut out of a family

How much is private medical insurance?

The cost will depend on your insurance provider and the package you’ve taken out with them. So it’s best to compare your options using our health insurance comparison service .

However, in most cases, the older you get, the more you’ll find yourself paying. A policy for a typical family of four with two 40 year old adults and two kids under ten could cost upwards of £700* a year.

Do I need medical insurance?

That’s for you to decide – remember that you do have access to the NHS and if it’s your children’s health you’re concerned about then it might help you to know that children are always prioritised under the NHS.

But it could give you huge peace of mind that your treatment will be fast tracked rather than having to wait for treatment on the NHS.

Finding the right policy

Only you can decide which policy is right for your family and insurance providers will differ on what they provide. So if you need something in particular, such as if you’re very sporty and envisage needing good access to physiotherapy – then make sure the policy you opt for, includes it.

You can’t put a price on good health but with the right policy, you can do your best to protect it, start doing that today by comparing health insurance policies now.

*Taken from Money Advice Service, correct at May 2016

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