Is private healthcare really necessary?

The UK has a fantastic free healthcare system, one of the best in world; however, private medical insurance / health insurance can give you peace of mind and better treatment in some scenarios. Ultimately it is a deeply personal choice and Mr Insurer urges you to do your due diligence and make the choice that feels right for you.

Private Health Insurance


Health insurance is also known as private medical insurance. The first question most people ask themselves is why health insurance might be important, after all we pay our taxes and have the free healthcare under the NHS. Mr Insurer has listed the pros and cons of both below to help you make an informed decision.

The first thing to understand is that you do not need health insurance, it is not a legal requirement and there are other insurances that should probably take priority of your disposable income. It is a choice and it should be the right one for you.

The cons of private health insurance:

  • Private medical insurance is very expensive. The premiums rise every year with your age and for many, it is unaffordable when you’re older and may benefit more from having the insurance policy.
  • There are no private A&E departments. If you have an emergency, the NHS will always see you. Patients are prioritised based on the severity of the condition. (this is the case for strokes / heart attacks / accidents etc.)
  • The approved list of private health care specialists may not be local to where you are
  • Chronic illnesses are not covered (detailed further below)

The pros of private health insurance:

  • Far less waiting time for appointments.
  • Choice of surgeons / doctors / hospitals.
  • Option to have a private room (rather than NHS ward).
  • Referrals through your GP to a specialist / consultant.
  • Drugs / treatments that may not even be available on the NHS


The policy itself is dictated by the provider so it’s recommended you have a full understanding of your commitment. Fundamentally you get what you pay for – the higher the price the better the cover. However, most policies will cover the costs of in-patient tests and surgeries. Some policies do cover out-patient treatments (like appointments with consultants / specialists) but be aware they may have higher premiums.

Heath insurance usually does not cover treatments for pre-existing medic al conditions (before you took out the policy), chronic illnesses (HIV / diabetes / epilepsy etc.), the costs of pregnancy and childbirth, cosmetic surgeries, organ transplants, extreme sports injuries or war injuries.

There is much debate as to whether policies should cover mental health issues so it’s something you should decide if you want to include and discuss with the providers at the quote stage.


With individual health insurance, there are two main types that providers offer – fully underwritten, and moratorium. Fully underwritten means that you must provide the insurer with an in-depth record of your medical history while moratorium policies only require a scant knowledge of your history. If you’re a healthy young adult, it may be cheaper to get a fully underwritten policy as good health is very much taken into account. has more information on which may be the most suitable for you.


If you do not wish to commit to private medical insurance, there are alternatives that may be better suited to you. The first is that if you’re employed, you may have private medical cover through your workplace. The second are healthcare cash plans which are like entry level PMI policies – they usually cover “everyday medical expenses” like optician appointments, dental appointments, physiotherapy etc. The third is critical illness cover. Critical illness cover is quite often linked with life insurance and pays out a fixed amount of money if you’re diagnosed with a critical illness. This can help with factors like the cost of special drugs and/or adaptations you may need to make to your home.

We suggest you make sure you talk to all the direct providers you can like Vitality, AXA, BUPA, Aviva and amongst many others with a simple search. Also, review all the comparison sites like MoneySuperMarket and ComparetheMarket, and the specialist healthcare comparison sites like (though be aware they be affiliated with a specific provider and prioritise their policies accordingly).

Money Savind Expert, and Money Advice Service are sites that can provide advice on how to make the best decision.

Loading... please wait

Key Equity Release