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Self-employed health insurance

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What is self-employed health insurance?

Self-employed health insurance is private medical insurance that can help protect you and your business. It could offer fast access to medical treatment if you fall ill, safeguarding you against waiting lists on the NHS.

Why should I consider health insurance if I’m self-employed?

Approximately 13% of the UK working population is self-employed. That’s just over 4.2 million people. Yet the majority have no health insurance or critical illness cover in place.

Taking out the right health insurance policy could offer the following benefits:

  • Shorter waiting times – currently the average waiting time for an NHS referral is more than 18 weeks
  • Access to private health facilities and treatment at a time to suit you
  • Private accommodation in a hospital or clinic
  • Possible access to more advanced treatments and medications not available on the NHS.

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What type of policies are available?

There are many different policies out there, so it’s important to think carefully about what you need to avoid having to pay for what you don’t.

Private health insurance policies tend to fall into the following levels of cover:

  • Basic – covers inpatient treatment and the cost of your hospital stay
  • Medium – in addition to the above, you can also add outpatient treatments
  • Comprehensive – inpatient and outpatient care, plus cover for additional treatments like physiotherapy, mental health support or, in some cases, complementary therapies.

You might want to look out for providers who offer ‘adaptable policies’ that allow you to tailor your plan to suit your needs – this flexibility can be particularly beneficial if you’re self-employed. It could mean cutting out what you don’t need and choosing a plan that works with your working life and lifestyle.

Another option is a health cash plan. This can cover routine visits, such as a trip to the dentist, opticians or physiotherapist – which most health plans exclude. You get a cash sum towards the visit or treatments, but unlike health insurance, it won’t cover you for any unexpected treatments.

With so many options available, choosing the right type of policy can be confusing. That’s why our partners at Assured Futures are on hand to offer expert advice and help you understand your options.

What types of exclusions could I see on a policy?

While self-employment health insurance policies can vary significantly, you might find some fairly standard exclusions to your policy terms. These may include:

  • GP visits
  • A&E treatment
  • Injuries related to sports or other high-risk activities
  • Transplants
  • Pregnancy
  • Conditions related to blindness and deafness
  • HIV and AIDS.

While these might not be covered as part of your self-employed health insurance plan, you should still be able to receive treatment through the NHS.

How much does self-employed health insurance cost?

It’s difficult to give an exact price as policies vary so much. As well as the level of cover you choose, other factors can affect the cost of health insurance. These include:

  • Your age – the younger you are, the cheaper your policy is likely to be
  • Your lifestyle – including whether you smoke or drink, and how much exercise you do
  • Your medical history – whether you have any pre-existing conditions
  • Where you live – medical treatment in London can be far more expensive than other areas of the UK.
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Author image Tim Knighton

What our expert says...

“One of the biggest worries for the self-employed is taking time off work and losing earnings because of illness or injury. Reduced waiting times and quicker access to medical treatment are big incentives to take out private health insurance when you’re self-employed. The less time you have to wait for treatment, the quicker you can get back to work.”

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

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Frequently asked questions

What other types of insurance should I also consider?

As well as private health insurance, you should also consider the following if you’re self-employed:

  • Income protection – could replace lost earnings with monthly payments if you can’t work because of an illness or injury. Some policies may even cover you up to retirement age.
  • Critical illness protection – a critical illness policy can pay out a lump sum should you become critically ill or suffer a heart attack or stroke.
  • Life insurance – policies seek to look after loved ones you leave behind when you die. You can decide on a lump sum or regular payments.

It’s also worth shopping around, as some health insurance providers offer discounts for self-employed people.

What is the difference between income protection and health insurance?

While they can be claimed for under similar conditions, income protection and health insurance are two very different types of payout.

Income protection is designed to replace any earnings, like your salary, if you’re no longer able to work. This allows you to keep up with your usual outgoings.

Health insurance is specifically intended to pay off any medical treatment and expenses you may face.

What if I have a pre-existing medical condition?

While you can still get health insurance if you have a pre-existing medical condition, your policy might not cover a specific condition that you’ve had symptoms from, or received advice or treatment for, in the last five years.

If you’re free of symptoms or treatments for two years after taking out your policy, you may be able to get cover for a pre-existing condition. However, terms and conditions can vary between providers, so check carefully before taking out a policy.

If you have a pre-existing condition, contact our partner Assured Futures.

How long does a policy last?

Health insurance is typically an annual policy that you can review at the end of each year.

If you’re looking for income protection, most insurance providers will cover you until you retire, and will pay out for 12-24 months.

Are sick days covered by self-employed health insurance?

You’ll likely find that your self-employed health insurance doesn’t cover sick days if you’re suffering from something relatively minor, like a rough cold or a common fever. You’ll simply need to consult your GP, which may be covered in whole, or part, by the NHS. For this reason, you’ll need to consider additional savings to cover sick days.

Find out about sickness insurance for the self-employed

Can I cover 100% of my income?

Your health insurance provides cover specifically for your medical expenses. The money you’ll be able to claim for depends on the cost of your treatments and other care, and will normally be paid to the relevant party.

If you’re looking to cover your income specifically, you should consider taking out an income protection policy, which could cover your salary and other earnings, should you be unable to work.

How can I cut the cost of my private health insurance?

Shopping around and comparing policies is one of the best ways to find the right level of cover at a price that suits you.

The following might also help to lower the cost of your premium:

  • Pay a higher excess – this could bring the cost of your health insurance down – just make sure you can afford the excess if you need to make a claim
  • Limit the number of hospitals – you’ll get a choice of hospitals when you take out a policy – the wider your choice, the more you’ll pay for your premium
  • Choose a ‘six-week’ option – this means you can’t claim if you can be treated on the NHS within six weeks.

How can I compare self-employed health insurance quotes?

It’s important to compare prices and cover levels before deciding on a policy that’s right for you. That’s where we can help. Compare health insurance with us today and we’ll provide you with a list of suitable quotes based on the information you give us.

And if you have any questions, you can give the friendly team at Assured Futures a call on Freephone 0808 141 1334.