Finance

How to Choose the Best Personal Health Insurance

Doctor with a stethoscope holding a red heart-shaped ornament

At first glance, choosing personal health insurance is a bewildering job, with thousands of policies to choose from, but when you break it down, choosing the right policy isn’t as hard as it may first appear. As your expert on the inside, with over 20 years of experience, allow me to explain.

Before we start, and for the purposes of this article, we should clear up the difference between an insurance broker and an insurance adviser. In the same way that a street vendor selling hotdogs and a five-star Michelin chef both cook food, brokers and advisers both sell insurance but in very different ways. At Partners& we view ourselves as risk protection advisers because we look at our clients’ needs holistically, not just repeating last years’ quote. We invest time in building a relationship with the client, so that we understand their circumstances and ambitions – only then can we provide the right advice. Our aim is to help our clients understand the insurance they have, and why they have it. So, whether we’re speaking with clients about home insurance or health insurance, we take the same approach, because we know no two clients are the same.

Back to choosing the best personal health insurance.

Clients often ask why we need personal health insurance when, in the UK, we have a highly regarded National Health System (NHS). Anyone with an eye on the news would have read these headlines that are appearing on an almost daily basis:

  • ‘4.7 million waiting for operations in England’ – BBC Health, 15 April 2021
  • ‘18% of the Welsh population waiting for planned treatments’ (up 24% on last year) BBC News, 20 May 2021
  • ‘Rising patient numbers threaten to overwhelm GP’s’ BBC Health, 27 May 2021

Not what you want to be reading over the breakfast table I admit, but sadly this is the reality of our health system today – it is over stretched, and NHS staff and GPs are overwhelmed. Covid-19 has produced a tsunami of patients queuing up, waiting to be seen, a backlog that may take many years to reduce. Personal health insurance will allow you to step aside from these waiting times, with the added benefit that you’ll be alleviating the burden on the NHS at the same time.

What does personal health insurance do?

In very simple terms, personal health insurance allows you to be seen, diagnosed, treated and get you back on your feet without waiting for the treat provided by the National Health Service. Many of today’s policies come with a private GP service, meaning you won’t even have to wait to see your local GP to be referred to a consultant anymore; your health will be entirely cared for in the private health care system.

How much does personal health insurance cost?

I’m always hearing that personal health insurance is expensive, but it really doesn’t have to be. Mull this example over for a minute: the average cost of personal health insurance according to Finder.com, is £1,435 per person a year (or £3.93 a day), whereas the average cost to have a knee replaced privately is £11,814 or a 13-week wait for an NHS operation. Does it really seem so expensive now or is it merely a prudent investment in your health, ability to work and general quality of life.

If you have questions about specialised personal health insurance contact our partner Partners&.

Treatment Cost of private treatment Average wait time on NHS
Knee replacement £11,814 13.5 weeks
Hip replacement £10,776 13.5 weeks
Cataract surgery £2,410 12.4 weeks
MRI scan £1,298 2.6 weeks
Skin lesion removal £940 6.5 weeks
CT scan £870 2.2 weeks
With private health insurance costing just over a tenth of the cost of the two replacement surgeries (£1,435 a year), which also demand that you wait around 13 weeks for the treatment under the NHS, you can see how health insurance can appear to be the more desirable option. The scans, on the other hand, cost a similar amount to an annual health insurance payment and require only a 2-week wait under the NHS.

If personal health insurance is on your to-do list, but you need more information before you make a decision, why not talk with our insurance partner Partners&? Book a call today.


What is the bare minimum I should be looking for in personal health insurance and who should I buy it from?

There is nothing more individual than your health, so you need something tailored to you rather than a one-size-fits-all product. That’s where we highly recommend talking to an experienced insurance adviser like Partners&. We have years’ of experience, we will provide you with a personalised recommendation based on a fai analysis of the market and we’ll know which are the most appropriate policies for you. Of course, you can go to the internet or a general insurance broker but if you do, make sure you read through the policy and the small print very carefully.

Is your broker ‘whole of market’ or tied to a few insurers?

When talking to any broker, it is essential to make sure they approach as wide number of market providers. Some brokers are tied into only offering policies from a one, or only a few insurers, which we advise against. Partners& does what it says on the tin; we will provide a personalised recommendation based on our understanding of your needs and based on a fair analysis of the insurers approached. We typically approach a wide number of insurers and do not favour a single provider. We ensure that you get the most appropriate policy for your needs, not for our commission cheque.

If you are unsure which is which, scroll to the bottom of the website advertising the policy. You may see some wording such as ‘See the Insurers We Work With’ – plus five or so names and logos of various insurers. This means they will only be offering policies from those insurers – so something to beware of. At Partners& we passionately believe that being able to choose from the most appropriate policies in the market is crucial to be able to offer clients a policy that meets their needs.

The basics you should be looking for in any personal health insurance policy are:

  • Access to a private GP service
  • A faster track to diagnostic services and consultant services

After that it becomes about how much comfort you can afford to add on. You may like to look for:

  • A private room/bathroom
  • A hospital of your choice
  • Access to specialist treatments

What’s not covered in a personal health insurance policy?

Remember, personal health insurance is essentially designed to cover new conditions that can be effectively treated; exclusions will vary from insurer to insurer but these things are unlikely to be covered:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • Chronic conditions
  • Cosmetic treatments
  • Experimental treatments and drugs
  • Routine check-ups, screening or monitoring
  • Charges deemed outside of ‘customary and reasonable’

If you’ve just read the list of exclusions above, sighed and resigned yourself to a life without insurance cover, hold that thought, all is not lost. With our extensive knowledge of the market and policies that are only available through advisers like us, we may be able to find an insurer who will cover your pre-existing or chronic condition and offer you the specialist treatment that’s important to you. Let us check.

Can I get my family or partner covered too?

Absolutely. This is quite normal, however the way in which we would approach this differs depending on what gets your family the appropriate cover at reasonable premium.

How do I make a claim on private health insurance?

For any personal health insurance claim, the one thing we would always recommend is to ensure you have discussed with the insurer directly beforehand and pre-authorised any treatment. That being said, we’re here to help and advise you should you need to make a claim in the same way we advise you to get the most appropriate product. At Partners&, we stand shoulder to shoulder with you throughout.

I already have an insurance policy that I bought on the internet, can you check to see if it is still the right one for me?

Of course, we’d be happy to check the policy and make any recommendations.

To summarise, the health insurance market can seem a bewildering place but with the right experts to guide you through the process we can make sure you (and your family) are appropriately covered for the future, whatever it might bring.

By Steve Hope, Insurance Adviser, Partners&

Partners& challenge the status quo by delivering insurance advice that makes a difference. Combining technical knowledge with service and intelligent use of technology, they offer clients the confidence and peace of mind that you are protected so with tailored recommendations that are right for you.

Get peace of mind and be confident that you are fully protected

Speak to an Adviser directly at Partners& Insurance

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