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Best Private Health Insurance UK (Reviews Of Top Insurers)

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Best private health insurance companies of 2020

In this section of our best private health insurance uk article, we’ve looked at the 7 of the leading UK’s health insurers and reviewing them on: 

All of the providers covered in this article have at least one policy which has a 4 or 5* defaqto 2020 rating, this scoring is updated each year on the 2nd of February, so we’ll revisit each provider’s score in February 2021.

*There are multiple review platforms currently available, and we have sought out the ones who have the most reviews for the insurer in question. 

Axa PPP

Axa PPP was founded in 1940 by a group of hospitals and doctors to help middle-income earners access expert medical care. With over 33,500 consultants and practitioners and 250 hospitals in their directory, they are the second largest provider of private medical insurance in the UK.

Axa PPP Personal Health

Axa offers a variety of policy options, from their core cover which is inpatient only, through to standard and full outpatient cover, all under their heading of “Personal Health”.

In terms of private health insurance policy options and comprehensiveness, Axa is right up there as one of the best. Their Core cover provides an excellent level of baseline cover. For those wishing to have speedier diagnosis and treatment, you can upgrade to their standard or full outpatient cover. 

Axa collects reviews from its customers via Feefo and in 2019 won their “Trusted Service Award”. Based on 375 reviews in the past year, 313 have been 5 stars, 45 have been 4-star and only 11 have been 2 or 1 star. Looking at these numbers, it is easy to see why Axa PPP has won Feefo’s Trusted Service Award.

Other recent awards:

Yourmoney.com – Best Direct Healthcare Provider 2019

Axa PPP Policy highlights:

Information relating to Axa PPP taken from the AXA PPP website and correct as of January 2020.

BUPA 

BUPA is perhaps the best-known provider of private health insurance in the UK, becoming synonymous with the service they provide. Their private health insurance offering in the UK is called Bupa By You, which is a flexible product that can be configured to your requirements.

Bupa Comprehensive

Concerning policy comprehensiveness and quality, BUPA leads with their comprehensive private health insurance, which covers both in and outpatient private treatment and diagnosis. Yes, you can get coverage where you are diagnosed on the NHS and treated privately via BUPA. Still, their suggestion is that you’d be better off having the full cover. While this may seem somewhat presumptuous, we think it shows that BUPA understands what its clients want and encourages people to go entirely private to avoid delays on the NHS.

BUPA collects reviews using Trustpilot and currently has a 4.5 out of 5-star rating and are classified as “Excellent”. Bearing in mind the size of BUPAs customer based we think this is incredibly impressive and a testament to the levels of cover and service they provide.

Bupa Policy highlights:

Information relating to BUPA has been taken from the BUPA website and correct as of January 2020.

Aviva’s health insurance product is called Healthier Solutions which offers prompt private medical treatment through a nationwide network of hundreds of hospitals. Like the other providers in this list, Aviva’s Healthier Solutions has a 5-star defaqto rating for 2019, demonstrating the excellent level of cover they provide.

Aviva Healthier Solutions

In terms of how comprehensive their private health insurance policies are, Aviva provides full outpatient cover as well as the standard inpatient protection. You can adjust your cover in many ways, such as adding routine dental and optical treatments or by changing your hospital list to reduce the cost. We would describe Aviva’s offering as a flexible healthcare solution which can be tailored to almost anyone’s requirements.

The only reviews we can find for Aviva are on Trustpilot, where it scores a miserly 1.5 out of 5 stars. It should be noted though, that this is for the company as a whole and isn’t specifically for its health insurance offering. 

In stark contrast to the negative reviews, Aviva won multiple awards at the Health Insurance Awards 2018, for “Company of the Year”, “Best Individual PMI Service Provider” and “Best Customer Service Provider.”

Aviva Policy Highlights:

Information regarding Aviva taken from the Aviva website and correct as of January 2020.

Vitality (formerly Pru-Health)

Vitality provides both life and private health insurance, this part of our article focuses purely on their health insurance product called Personal Healthcare. Once again, Vitalities health insurance offering scores an impressive 5-star defaqto rating for 2019. We will update this article once 2020 ratings become available in February.

Vitality – Personal Healthcare

Vitality is often described as an innovative provider of private health insurance as they have brought new ideas to the market, such as rewarding those who keep active. Their Core cover includes both in and day-patient cover, plus out-patient surgical procedures.

Vitality enjoy a 4.5 out of 5 star score on Trustpilot and are rated as excellent. As five times winners of Moneyfacts “Best Private Medical Insurance Provider” award, you can be sure that Vitality are committed to delivering the highest levels of customer service.

Vitality Policy Highlights:

Information regarding Vitality taken from the Vitality website and correct as of January 2020.

Health-On-Line

Health-On-Line is a relatively new private health insurance company which started in 2000 to provide a new approach to the market. Since then it has grown significantly, resulting in it being acquired by AXA, albeit still trading under its brand name. 

Health-on-line’s health insurance service aims to give you more control over your policy and your healthcare. You get a dedicated account manager, 24/7 nurses helpline, and you can manage your account, as you would hope, online. 

Health-on-line Personal Health and inSpire

With access to over 200 quality assessed hospitals via the Axa PPP network, Health-on-line can provide excellent nationwide coverage. As with other providers, you can build a plan around your specific circumstances, including a bespoke hospital list. 

Health-on-line policy highlights:

Information relating to Health-on-line taken from their website and correct as of January 2020.

Freedom Health Insurance

Freedom Health Insurance was established in 2003 and is a specialist provider of Private Medical Insurance. Being that they only offer healthcare insurance, they are dedicated to the provision of first-class private medical protection.

Freedom Elite

Freedom’s best level of protection is their Freedom Elite product, which gives you comprehensive in and outpatient cover. Medical costs are settled directly with the hospital, and the whole plan can be tailored to your requirements.

Freedom Elite is by its nature a comprehensive, high-quality policy, with cover even for alternative therapies such as homoeopathy and podiatry as an optional extra. It includes full cancer cover, with oncology tests, surgery and private treatment. Psychiatric cover is an additional extra as is access to a private GP, Dentist and Optician. 

Freedom private health insurance is another provider that collects reviews on Feefo, but at present only has 13, with an average score of 4.2 out of 5. Hopefully, in time more reviews will be added, and we will check back when we next update this article. 

Freedom private health insurance policy highlights:

Information relating to Freedom Health Insurance taken from their website and correct as of January 2020.

WPA are a smaller but growing private health insurance company that provides individual and family health insurance policies. Innovatively, WPA have introduced the multi-family policy, which allows you to create a plan which covers both your immediate and extended family. 

WPA Flexible Health and Multi-Family Healthcare

WPA’s Flexible Health product gives you the ability to choose from three levels of cover, Essentials, Premier and Elite. Seeing as we are interested in the best private healthcare insurance, we’re going to focus on their Elite offering which includes full in and outpatient cover.

There aren’t a huge number of reviews available for WPA at present and those that there are aren’t hugely positive. On Trustpilot WPA is currently rated at 3.2 and “Average”. Such a small number of reviews isn’t often an accurate representation of a company and we would urge people to judge for themselves. 

WPA health insurance policy highlights:

Information relating to WPA taken from their website and correct as of January 2020.

Saga’s health insurance is for the over 50’s market and they have a range of policies. Their “Super” product range offers their best policies, covering both in and out-patient treatments as well as diagnostic procedures. Saga’s HealthPlan Super, Super 4 and Super 6 all scored a defaqto score of 5 in February 2020.

Saga HealthPlan Super

With Saga you have access to a nationwide network of over 500 private hospitals and you have access to special services which are not available on the NHS such as speaking to a GP at any time, day or night. They offer policy options such as a 4-week wait, where you can reduce the cost of your premium by agreeing to be treated by the NHS if the waiting time is less than 4 weeks.

Saga has an enviable level of reviews on Trustpilot, scoring a 4.5 out of 5 with over 10,000 reviews.

Saga Policy Highlights:

Information regarding Saga taken from the Saga website and correct as of April 2020.

What is private health insurance?

Private health insurance, often called private medical insurance (PMI), gives you access to the UK’s private healthcare providers and hospitals, ensuring you have fast treatment of the highest standard should you ever need it.

What are the benefits of private health insurance?

The benefits of private medical insurance are numerous, but it should be remembered that it always provides a supplementary service to that of the NHS, not a replacement.

Main benefits of private medical insurance:

What does private health insurance cover?

All private health insurance policies will cover the costs relating to treating acute conditions where an overnight hospital stay is required (inpatient). Chronic conditions, meaning those which aren’t curable, won’t be covered and only in more comprehensive policies will outpatient treatment and diagnosis be included.

Inpatient treatment

Inpatient treatment, meaning that where an overnight stay is required, forms the foundations of all private health insurance policies, even the most basic. While treatment and a stay in a private hospital will be covered by an inpatient-only policy, it’s important to point out that all of the diagnostics and testing leading to the medical treatment would need to take place through the NHS, which could result in delays to your ultimate treatment.

Outpatient diagnosis and treatment

Prior to receiving treatment for your condition, you will inevitably go through one or multiple consultations and tests before receiving a diagnosis. If you would like these to take place privately, you will need outpatient cover, which is typically included in more comprehensive policies. Bear in mind though, whether you do or don’t have outpatient cover, you always start with a visit to your NHS GP.

Cancer cover

Private health insurance gives you access to the newest cancer treatments, procedures and drugs, many of which aren’t currently available on the NHS.

Benefits of private cancer care:

What is an acute medical condition?

Each insurer will define an acute condition slightly differently, but broadly speaking it means an illness which can be cured through medical intervention.

What is a chronic medical condition?

A chronic condition is defined as one which cannot be cured and will probably require management, as opposed to medical treatment. Two examples are diabetes and asthma, both of which would be excluded from a policy.

What isn’t covered by private medical insurance?

What  isn’t covered by your private medical insurance will depend on your chosen insurer, policy and circumstances, but broadly speaking you can expect all of the following to be excluded:

Private medical insurance underwriting explained

Underwriting in private medical insurance is very important as it doesn’t only affect the price of your policy but also your coverage. That’s why we always recommend getting to grips with the fundamentals to ensure that you don’t inadvertently end up with less cover than you thought you had. There are two main types of underwriting used by UK insurers for private policies, they are Moratorium and Full Medical Underwriting.

Moratorium Underwriting

Moratorium Underwriting automatically excludes all your pre-existing conditions over a five year period. Rather than finding out about your medical history upfront, insurers will instead defer that process until such time that you make a claim. Moratorium Underwriting is by far the most popular form of private medical insurance underwriting in the UK. Its main disadvantage is that you won’t truly know whether you are covered until you make a claim.

Full Medical Underwriting (FMU)

As the name suggests, FMU looks at your medical history in its entirety with the insurer then providing you with a policy with clear exclusions. Full Medical Underwriting is time consuming and can require the insurer writing to your GP for information, but unlike moratorium underwriting, you will have a clear understanding of what is and isn’t covered on the policy.

Which private health insurance underwriting is best?

Which private health insurance underwriting method is best is subjective based on your own circumstances. As we mentioned, Moratorium is the most commonly used, but FMU also has its place. As underwriting is such an important part of your cover, we’d always recommend speaking to us before you make a decision. All of our advice is free of charge.

How much does private health insurance cost?

The cost of private health insurance is impacted by quite a large number of factors, with the most significant being:

About private healthcare

Private Healthcare can be an attractive alternative to using the NHS, as patients will generally be seen quicker and have far greater flexibility over their medical treatment. That said, it isn’t cheap, which is why many people look to purchase Private Health Insurance which covers the cost of many private treatments.

Benefits of private healthcare

There are a number of significant benefits that being treated privately can offer:

NHS Patient Choice Programme

The NHS recognises that patient choice is extremely important and it therefore has a dedicated programme aimed at improving the communication of the available options to patients. You can ask your GP about treatment via private healthcare, and they should be able to help you make an informed decision as to whether it is appropriate in your circumstances. 

Private hospitals and health insurance

Every private health insurance provider has its own hospital directory or list, which is a collection of hospitals which they will allow you to receive treatment at, as outlined in your insurance policy. This list tends to be exclusive to the insurer, although most policies will allow you to access the largest hospital providers such as Nuffield, Spire, Ramsay, BMI and Circle Healthcare. It isn’t always the case though, so be sure to confirm this with your insurer or check with us.

To access more extensive hospital directories, such as those based in London and HCA hospitals, your insurer may allow you to receive medical treatment for an additional policy premium. You should also bear in mind insurers may update their hospital list throughout the year, adding or removing to their standard directory.

If you’re in doubt or would like a helping hand, we’d be happy to work with you and advise on the hospitals that you’d benefit from accessing for your needs.

Private Healthcare providers in the UK

There are a variety of Private Healthcare providers across the UK, some of which specialise in certain conditions, with others offering a broad range of medical services. In this section, we provide an overview of four of the leading providers, where their hospitals are and what they are best known for. 

One of the best known Private Healthcare providers in the UK, Nuffield Health is a not-for-profit charity, which invests its income back into improving the nation’s health. They currently have 31 hospitals and over 100 fitness and wellbeing clubs across the UK. They work with the NHS, private medical insurers, employers and the public to provide private health and wellbeing services.

Spire Healthcare has 39 private hospitals across the UK and provides a large range of treatments, from cancer and cardiac care, through to diagnostic scans, tests and investigations. An award-winning provider, Spire Healthcare are committed to providing high-quality care to the UK.

BMI Healthcare started in 1970 and today has 54 private hospitals and clinics throughout the UK. Offering over 500 different medical treatments, they have centres of excellence for cancer, spinal, orthopaedic, neuro and cardiac care. According to their website, as of 2020, they handle over 296,000 inpatient and 1,700,000 outpatient visits each year. 

HCA operates six world-class private hospitals across London and the Christie Private Care Hospital in Manchester. Due to location and their first-class facilities, healthcare at these hospitals tend to cost more than with some of the other providers mentioned.

Ramsay Healthcare has a network of 33 private hospitals in England and Wales, which provide a comprehensive range of clinical services to over 200,000 people per annum and employing over 5,000 people. 

Other providers of private healthcare

In addition to the four providers we’ve mentioned, there are numerous others that provide excellent services to their patients. We always encourage people to research the providers themselves, we’re more than happy to share what we know, but you’re more likely to discover things that are pertinent to you.

Private Hospitals In the UK

With well over 100 private hospitals scattered across the UK, each with their own specialisms and consultants, it can be tricky to locate the one which is best for you. If you’re insured, you should always start by speaking to your insurer, to see which hospitals they include in your cover. If you’re not insured and looking to pay directly, you can use a tool such as this to search for a hospital close to you that has the specialisms you require. 

Types of private hospitals

There are several types of private hospitals that you will come across in the UK:

Key points to consider when choosing a private hospital

How much does private healthcare cost in the UK?

The cost of treatment in a private hospital will depend on a variety of factors, such as your location, the private treatment you require and whether you do or don’t have Private Health Insurance. This is a hugely important question to ask, and one we’ve written a dedicated article about. Click this link to learn about the cost of private medical treatments in the UK.

How do you pay for private healthcare?

There are a number of ways you can pay for private healthcare in private hospitals around the UK. The three most common are:

Accessing private healthcare via private medical health insurance

Having private medical insurance is one of the most popular ways of accessing private healthcare in the UK. It gives you a predictable monthly cost, while also providing peace of mind that should you become unwell, you’re covered.

What isn’t covered by Private Health Insurance

What is and isn’t covered, including which hospitals you can access will vary from provider to provider and of course the terms of your policy. However, most private health insurers will exclude the following from your policy:

For more information about what isn’t included, it is always best to look at your policy documentation, or ask us, when we’re discussing your policy options.

Insurers’ Hospital Lists

Every insurer will have their own hospital directory which will detail the hospitals you can receive private medical treatment at in the event of a claim. Usually, the insurer will offer a national hospital list comprising primarily of mid-range hospitals, spread across the UK. You can, however, ask for a different list, be that of hospitals which are more local to you, or even higher-end hospitals, usually located in central London. As with any option within private health insurance, the hospital list you choose will affect your premium.

Compare the UK’s leading private health insurers

Compare the leading providers of private medical insurance with us and get free, impartial advice from one of our UK based Financial Conduct Approved authorised and regulated partners. Healthcare insurance can at times be complicated, and choosing the right policy isn’t always straightforward, which is why we’re here to help.

Benefits of our service:

This content was originally published here.

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