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The cost of private health insurance 

In this guide, we look at the cost of private medical insurance and how it’s calculated. We also cover the key things you can do to make sure you’re getting good value.

What is private health insurance?

Health insurance gives you access to private healthcare and helps cover the cost. It’s also known as private health insurance or private medical insurance (PMI).  It covers seeing a private GP, physiotherapist, or mental health professional. It also covers stays in private hospitals and access to specialist drugs and ongoing care.

What are health insurance premiums?

Your health insurance premium is the price you pay for your insurance. Most insurance companies allow you to pay in monthly instalments or once a year if you prefer.

The amount you pay depends on many factors, which we cover in the section below.

What is health insurance excess?

An excess is an amount that you pay for your medical treatment. You pay it as an upfront cost - and your insurance covers the rest of the cost.

For example, if your treatment costs £4,000 and you have an excess of £500, you’ll pay £500 when you have treatment. Then, the insurance company will pay the rest of the bill.

If you choose to have an excess on your plan, it should reduce the cost of your regular premiums. 

How much does private health insurance cost?

The cost of private medical insurance varies from person to person. It depends on your circumstances and the level of cover you choose.

Our core cover starts at about £44 per month. But, the amount you’ll pay depends on many factors. These include: age, medical history, lifestyle, the type of cover you choose and the excess you opt for. Let’s take a look at these in more detail.

How is the cost of private health insurance calculated?

Insurers use several factors to determine your private health insurance premiums.

  • Your age: The younger you are, the cheaper your premiums are likely to be. As you get older, there’s a greater chance you’ll need to make a claim. So the price of your insurance will take this into account.
  • Where you live: The cost of providing your healthcare will vary depending on where you live. Prices in the southeast of England, especially London, will be higher. This is because treatment costs more there.
  • Your medical history: You’ll need to provide info about any existing conditions, treatments, or tests you're having. You do this when you take out your plan. Be as open and honest as you can so that your insurer can give you the best price. 
  • Your lifestyle: Smoking raises your risk of many medical conditions. So, your premiums will be higher if you smoke. Other factors can be taken into consideration too. Like alcohol intake and use of non-prescribed medication and drugs.
  • Type of cover: Most insurers offer many health insurance options. What you choose will affect your premiums.
  • The excess you choose: If you choose to have an excess on your plan, it should reduce the cost of your regular premiums. You're paying towards your treatment, so the insurance company doesn't need to cover the whole cost of your care.

At Vitality, we help you build a plan that’s right for you. You can start with our core cover. It provides access to a virtual GP, physiotherapy and mental health support. Also, in-patient treatments that require you to stay overnight in a hospital. And out-patient treatments that don’t require a hospital bed overnight.

Included as standard is our advanced cancer cover. It offers full cover for the latest therapies, as well as for screenings and prevention.
We also give you the choice to tailor your cover with optional extras.

These include extra out-patient cover and tests. There is also more mental health support and optical, dental, and hearing cover. Plus, you can choose to select the consultant who treats you.

What is the average cost of private health insurance?

Several factors affect private health insurance cost. As a rough guide, someone in their twenties at Vitality you can expect to pay from £44 per month [1]  for Vitality’s core cover.

The cost goes up to £190 per month for someone in their fifties.

The price of your policy is reviewed each year so you can choose a different level of cover as you get older. You can also increase or decrease your excess at renewal.

How can I reduce my health insurance premiums?

There are three main ways to reduce the cost of your private health insurance:

1. Review the level of cover you need

Not everyone needs the optional extras that many insurance companies offer. If you find a provider that offers all the cover you want in their standard plan, this can cut your insurance cost.

2. Increase your excess

The higher your excess, the lower your premium. You can pay towards your treatment by setting your excess at £500 or £1,000. This will make your premiums cheaper than if you had no excess. With Vitality, you can also choose to pay the excess every time you make a claim, or just once in a plan year.

3. Choose your underwriting

Underwriting is how insurance companies consider your age, medical history, and past claims. They do this before they provide a health insurance quote.

If you choose full medical underwriting, it considers your full medical history. This includes pre-existing conditions. This means you may be able to get cover for pre-existing conditions, but it will probably cost more.

Moratorium underwriting won’t cover you for any conditions you’ve had in the previous 5 years. Usually, you also need to be free from the condition and its treatment for two years. Then, you can make a claim for that condition. This type of cover can be cheaper because of these exclusions.


Why do health insurance premiums increase?

Each year your insurer will give you a new price for your health insurance for the next year. This is your renewal price. Your premium will change based on your age and claims history. It will also change based on the increase in the cost of providing medical care – which we call medical inflation.

The amount you’ve claimed also affects your premium. If you don’t make any insurance claims, your premium should only rise in line with age and medical inflation.

At Vitality, we use our unique A, B, C formula when calculating your renewal price:

  • A for Age: Like all insurers, your price goes up slightly with every year you age. Because the older you get, the more likely you are to claim.
  • B for Base inflation of medical costs: Treatment, drug and hospital costs rise every year for every insurer. So our prices also take into account how much those costs go up.
  • C for Claims: We adjust your price based on the claims you’ve made. How much we adjust it also depends on how much you look after your health [2].

With Vitality, you can lower your premiums by earning Vitality points. You earn Vitality points for get them by doing healthy things, like having a yearly check-up or tracking your daily activity. 

The more points you earn, the higher your Vitality status. And the higher your Vitality status, the bigger the rewards and the lower your premium can be.

Learn more about how premiums are calculated

Health insurance costs - things to consider

What level of cover do you need?

Find a provider that offers a high level of cover as standard. You won’t need to pay for optional extras unless you feel you need them. Check out if the provider puts a cap on the amount of cover they offer for certain conditions. This limit may restrict your future treatment. 

Can you afford the premiums?

There are ways to reduce the cost of private medical insurance and make it more affordable. With Vitality, you can choose your level of cover. You can also set your preferred excess and choose from our underwriting options. These factors can lower the cost of premiums.

Are you getting value for money?

Fast access to private medical care can be very reassuring. Especially if you want to avoid lengthy GP and hospital waiting lists. With Vitality, you can access private healthcare simply online and manage your health yourself. 

Our private health insurance provides access to discounts and rewards when you get active. When you join Vitality, you can download our app and connect a fitness tracker to start earning points. The more you move, the more points you earn. 

And the more points you earn, the better discounts and rewards you get. Like money off smart watches, cinema tickets, and hotel bookings. It’s our way of giving back to you for staying active.

Vitality private health insurance

Want to know more about health insurance or thinking about taking out a policy? Here are some of the benefits of taking out health insurance with Vitality:
  • See a private GP within 48 hours
  • Avoid lengthy hospital waiting lists
  • Get specialist drugs and treatments
  • See a consultant fast
  • Refer yourself for physiotherapy
  • Get mental health support fast – and without a GP referral
  • Menopause support
  • Discounts from top brands. And rewards for getting healthy.
Get your health insurance quote today

Published: 15 May 2024


[1 ] Price is based on a 35-year-old living in Peterborough, plan starting 01.02.2024, with Consultant Select hospital option, Full Medical Underwriting, plan excess of £250, and £500 Out-patient benefit. Includes Insurance Premium Tax.

[2] Claims made under the Worldwide Travel Cover and Optical, Dental and Hearing Cover are not taken into account when calculating the Claims element of your ABC renewal price.

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