The best UK health insurance providers for 2022

Team ManyPets
13 January 2022 - 29 min read

We've reviewed the latest independent ratings and awards to list the best UK health insurance policies.

Why are these the best health insurers in 2022?

To be included on our list of the best health insurance the provider must offer a policy that includes full cover for these core features:

  • Hospital fees, including drugs and surgery
  • Consultant fees, such as anaesthetist fees
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Cancer cover

We believe these are features most people are looking for when they consider health insurance and they’re likely to be among the most common things people claim for.

We made our selection based on the most extensive base cover policy each insurer had available (excluding optional extras). Not all policies offered by the providers in our list will include full cover for these features as standard and they may label them differently, so be sure to check carefully when you’re comparing plans.

You can get free regulated advice about health insurance cover features from ActiveQuote. Because they’re regulated they can suggest the policies that will best suit your circumstances. Visit their site to compare policies and get advice on health insurance.

If you’re trying to decide which policy is best for you, it’s worth considering which features are most relevant to your needs and paying attention to any additional benefits the provider might offer. For example, someone under 30 might feel they have less need for extensive cancer cover but might be more interested in physiotherapy benefits.

We based our list of the best health insurers on companies that offer substantial cover for the most commonly required procedures, However, there may be specific benefits or features people consider when looking for health insurance some providers offer that make them more relevant to you. These include:

  • Available hospitals — Many of the insurers in our list offer access to a nationwide network of private medical facilities. If you live closer to a hospital associated with a particular provider it may influence your decisions.
  • Virtual GP access — Having access to a GP via an app is becoming increasingly popular. It can allow you to book an appointment at a convenient time from your home and the GP may be able to prescribe treatments through the app. Talking to your GP over the phone via an app is an increasingly popular way of being seen. Providers like Aviva, Vitality Health, WPA and The Exeter offer apps for virtual GP appointments so you don’t need to leave your home for a diagnosis.
  • Mental health cover — Getting treatment for mental illness is just as important as medicine for physical injuries. Many insurers will cover the costs of therapy for things like addiction and depression. AXA cover provides unlimited cover for mental health treatment on its comprehensive plan. Bupa offers mental health cover that extends to the rest of your family as well, including children.

In this guide

  • What is health insurance?
  • How to choose the best health insurance
  • The different types of health insurance in the UK
  • How much does health insurance cost in the UK?
  • Private Health Insurance and pre-existing conditions
  • Can I get Dental Health Insurance?
  • Can I get Expat Health Insurance or International Health Insurance?
  • Health insurance during pregnancy
  • Does health insurance cover cosmetic surgery?
  • Does health insurance cover complementary therapies?
  • Is 'unlimited' cover really unlimited?
  • Who are the biggest health insurance companies in the UK?
  • Health Insurance Reviews
  • All Health Insurance Reviews

What is health insurance?

Health insurance can be one of the most important insurance purchases an individual or family will make.

While the NHS provides free treatment, it can have substantial waiting times and is limited by the types of treatments available. Health insurance allows you to get access to private hospitals and medical facilities for prompt, high-quality care.

With health insurance, you pay a monthly or annual fee and make claims for private healthcare you receive. Your insurance will cover some or all of the costs of these treatments, depending on what’s included in your plan.

A private health insurance policy can provide cover for different kinds of medical diagnosis and treatment both in hospital and as an out-patient.

To learn more about insurance related to health, check out our in-depth guides to best life insurance, income protection insurance and dental cover.

How to choose the best health insurance

The private medical insurance market is growing in the UK thanks to people choosing to buy health insurance for a variety of reasons. 

New products and health insurance companies are emerging, adding to the bewildering array of options. Thankfully, ActiveQuote offers free regulated advice if you have any questions. They’ll help you understand which health insurance policies will suit you best based on your needs. 

To help find the best health insurance quote for you, here are some handy tips that can help:

1. Use a comparison site

You can easily compare prices using a specialist health and life insurance comparison site like ActiveQuote.com which can help you better understand what’s included in all the policies available to you. You can search for key benefits that matter to you most — like out-patient cover — and compare the level of cover offered against the price of your monthly premiums. That way, you can find a policy that meets all of your needs as well as your budget.

2. Compare specific features rather than just price

Finding the best health insurance for you means looking for specific features and benefits within policies, rather than overall price and scores alone. Health policies can be flexible, so tailor the cover to your needs when getting a quote and make sure that it’s within your budget. You can do this yourself by going directly to each provider or via ActiveQuote, where you can simultaneously tailor cover across multiple brands to compare them.

You’ll need to think about whether you want:

  • Access to quicker diagnosis
  • Access to better or more convenient hospitals and treatments
  • Cover for specific illnesses or drugs
  • Remote GP app
  • Mental health treatments or advise

The different types of health insurance in the UK

The degree of cover you’ll get in a private health insurance policy varies depending on your plan and the company you purchase it from. Generally speaking, the types of policies available fall into the following categories:

Private medical insurance (comprehensive plan)

Also known as a ‘Comprehensive Plan’ in the UK, private medical insurance is usually a full health insurance policy. These policies can provide cover for a range of medical diagnoses and treatments, whether you’re an in-patient or not. The degree of cover varies depending on the policy and company, but they are typically the most comprehensive plans available.

With the rising costs of healthcare, private medical insurance can also be the most expensive. Prices tend to rise as policyholders get older; those in their forties and fifties will most likely pay more for their insurance than someone of a similar medical history in their thirties.

The level of cover you select will also influence the price of your premiums. The more comprehensive your coverage, the more you can expect to pay, whether that’s monthly or annually.

Cancer cover

While private health insurance may seem unaffordable for some, having no insurance in place for things like cancer can be more costly in the long run. NHS treatment doesn’t offer some of the other benefits of insurance, which can include compensation for earnings if you’re too ill to work.

While cancer cover is often an optional add-on, it’s sometimes included as standard in some health insurance policies. Vitality, for example, includes Advanced Cancer Cover in all its policies, covering all types of cancer. It offers full cover for things like radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and cancer surgery. It also discounts screenings and risk assessments for breast, bowel and cervical cancer.

On the other hand, you can also take out a separate cancer insurance policy. Aviva's Cancer Essentials cover starts from just £1.18 a month and provides up to £100,000 for cancer drugs that the NHS won’t pay for on financial grounds. It also includes a cash benefit so you’ll get a £5,000 lump sum upon cancer diagnosis to ease your financial concerns.

Take care to read the terms and conditions to be sure the definition of 'being diagnosed’ with a condition is clear, as this is the main factor in deciding if and when the policy will payout.

Cash plans

Another type of UK health cover is the Cash Plan. It’s intended for health expenses that aren’t particularly costly but must be paid out frequently, such as paying for opticians, chiropodists and physiotherapists. As a result, it is important to see it separately from health insurance or private medical cover itself.

However, many cash plans operate as a percentage cashback scheme, meaning they only pay a percentage (often 50% or 75%) of the costs incurred rather than the full amount. 

Cash plans typically limit you to claiming a set amount of money per year for each of the agreed categories of treatment, depending on the policy you choose. Alternatively, a full private health insurance policy may have a higher limit on payments — or even no limits at all. 

When deciding which type of health insurance policy is best for you, consider that many major hospital treatments included in a full private medical insurance policy are not covered at all by cash plans.

How much does health insurance cost in the UK?

The cost of private medical insurance depends on several factors to do with your personal circumstances.

Your age and your location are two factors that influence your premiums. Some areas of the UK have higher life expectancies than others and better access to affordable hospital facilities. Health insurers take these personal circumstances into account when they calculate your premium, along with the level of cover you want, to give you a quote for health insurance.

With so many different factors in play, it’s hard to give a specific 'cost' of private health insurance. A young person in a cheaper postcode can pay under £20 a month with limited cover, whereas a person in their 50s living in central London requiring comprehensive cover can easily pay over £100 a month for the same level of cover.

We investigated the prices of health insurance premiums in our article on the costs of private healthcare

You can compare health insurance quotes online for your own circumstances from multiple providers in minutes using ActiveQuote, a specialist price comparison site for health insurance. You can even use it to get free professional advice over the phone.

Private health insurance and pre-existing conditions

Many pre-existing conditions aren’t covered by health insurers. Exactly how these conditions are treated will depend on the terms of the insurer and the underwriting method you choose. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, check out our guide to health insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions. As an older person, pre-existing conditions are something you may need to take into account. 

Some insurers will have a set of pre-existing conditions that aren’t covered in their standard policies. These will typically include chronic conditions (long-term health issues that require ongoing treatment and monitoring) such as diabetes and hypertension, as well as procedures that are deemed to be not medically necessary like cosmetic surgery. It’s worth checking your policy wording to understand the exclusions or see if ActiveQuote can advise on what each provider does and doesn’t cover.

Before you get a quote, you can choose several different underwriting options. If you have any pre-existing conditions that are not on the exclusion list, then these different options will change how the conditions are treated in the future.

Types of private health underwriting

Below are the most common underwriting options for private health insurance policies.

Full medical underwriting

With full medical underwriting, insurers ask for your medical history and go through your circumstances in detail to arrive at a bespoke price and their cover terms.

You will need to check these terms in detail because they may decide to exclude a pre-existing condition completely, exclude it for a specific period of time after which it is then covered (assuming no symptoms in the meantime) or include it.

Moratorium

With moratorium underwriting, there is no need to submit any medical information or history.

The terms typically state that you won’t be covered for any medical condition that you have had in the last five years and that this remains the case for the first two years of the policy. If you are trouble-free — it’s important to be clear on what each insurer’s definition of ‘trouble-free’ is — of any pre-existing conditions throughout those two years, then you will be covered for all conditions from the third year onwards.

If you switch from another health insurer, the Moratorium period may be carried over rather than starting again. It’s worth noting that if you do make a claim, the insurer is likely to ask for information about your medical history at that point to confirm that the claim doesn’t relate to a pre-existing condition.

Continued Cover

Some insurers will accept a continuation of cover; that is, copying all the existing exclusions on your current policy from another provider. In this case, there could be some variations in terms, so check and see that there are no material differences when considering a switch.

Choosing the right cover for you

The cover you choose depends on a wide range of personal circumstances and the prices offered. Some will see the benefit of going through the longer, more intrusive Full Medical Underwriting process as it gives greater clarity on what will and will not be covered before you buy.

Others prefer the convenience of the Moratorium process when buying and accept that there’s a possibility that when they make a claim it might be turned down if their medical history shows it was or is related to a condition that existed prior to buying the policy.

Note that when you buy online, several insurers only offer Moratorium underwriting. This is because the Full Medical Underwriting process requires in-depth discussion about your medical history, which is best done over the phone or through dedicated forms. If you are looking for Full Medical Underwriting, it’s worth calling insurers directly to get a clear picture of what a bespoke policy would look like for you.

Can I get dental health insurance?

Dental issues are often excluded from UK Health Insurance policies. However, there are some exceptions and some ways that dental cover can be included, depending on the provider and the dental work in question.

If dental cover is important to you, it's worth comparing policies from dental insurance providers. For example, Bupa does not offer any dental cover with its health insurance policy: instead, it has a separate dental product that can be bought independently of health cover.

What does Dental Health Insurance cover?

Dental Health Insurance typically covers the following:

  • Oral surgery — Cover for more extensive dental procedures, typically those for which your dentist has referred you to a hospital. This includes things like tooth extractions and reconstructive work. Insurers that offer cover for oral surgery as an optional add-on include Aviva, which offers up to £600 cover for dental treatment following an accident. Vitality offers optional cover for major dental treatment up to £2,500 as well as up to 80% of the costs for fillings, crowns and implants up to £400. Please note that you may not be covered for treatments that your dentist carries out.
  • Routine dental treatment — Check-ups and dental deep-cleans are counted as routine treatments; essentially, it’s most things that can easily be done at your dentist’s office. Aviva offers £250 cover for routine dental treatments with a £50 excess.

These are only examples of the policies available. Always ensure you check the terms and conditions of your policy to be sure you understand the cover you are buying. To help, you can compare the levels of dental cover for different policies using ActiveQuote.com

Read our guide to the best dental insurance policies.

Can I get ex-pat or international health insurance?

On a standard health insurance policy, most UK companies will not cover any treatment costs that are incurred outside the UK. Therefore, regular travellers, expatriates or those heading abroad for extended periods may need to look for alternative options.

Health insurance providers that offer international cover

  • AXA — Provides optional international health insurance aimed at non-UK residents. Covers transport costs to get to a hospital (even international flights) and consultancy fees for second opinions.
  • Bupa — Covers emergency health treatments with no overall annual limit on the majority of eligible medical expenses and no excess to pay on medical cover, even in the United States. It also covers many pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Freedom — Covers medical treatment for acute conditions when you have to be admitted to hospital including as an inpatient or day-patient. It also includes cover for  surgery, cancer treatment and medical evacuation. However, it does not cover pre-existing medical conditions.

International health insurance is not the same as a travel insurance policy, which is designed for shorter trips rather than living abroad. Make sure you understand which cover best suits your needs.

You can get specialist advice and quotes for international health insurance from ActiveQuote.

Our guide to travel insurance for medical conditions also offers information on getting the right cover for you.

Health insurance during pregnancy

With health insurance, pregnancy is generally viewed as ‘not an illness’, which, while technically correct, is not reassuring for expecting mothers and fathers. As a result, health insurance policy documents can be vague or confusing in relation to pregnancy, describing that ‘routine’ pregnancy is not covered.

The good news is that some insurers will cover some events relating to pregnancy complications.

Insurance providers that cover pregnancy complications

AXA

While AXA rules out routine pregnancy treatment, it only provides cover for medical conditions developed during pregnancy. It also provides a list of conditions that would be covered in its policy documents, including costs for treating ectopic pregnancies, retained placentas and miscarriages requiring immediate surgical treatment.

Aviva

Aviva will cover some pregnancy complications even though it doesn’t cover routine treatments. These include ectopic pregnancies, retained placentas and caesarean sections under specific clinical conditions (decided on a case-by-case basis). If you have mental health cover on your policy, Aviva will also cover treatment for postnatal depression.

Freedom Healthnet

Freedom offers cover for pregnancy complications in its Freedom Elite package. This includes full cover for specialist and hospital fees whether you’re an inpatient or a day-patient. It also pays a maternity cash benefit, meaning you get £150 for each child born (as long as you’ve had the Freedom Elite plan at least 10 months prior to the birth).

Vitality

Vitality states that it does provide cover for pregnancy complications on its core health insurance policy. This includes:

  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Miscarriage
  • Missed abortion
  • Stillbirths
  • Post-partum haemorrhage

These, and other features, can be compared across providers and policy levels using Activequote.com.

Our guide to travel insurance for medical conditions also offers information on getting cover, or for more information read our in-depth article on pregnancy and health insurance.

Does health insurance cover cosmetic surgery?

While many insurers will cover what they deem to be ‘reconstructive surgery’, they usually don’t cover cosmetic surgery.

AXA makes this distinction and is happy to cover what it calls the ‘first reconstructive surgery’ — that is, plastic surgery that is necessary following an accident or as a result of surgery for a covered medical condition. It says that it will not cover any treatment that then relates to the reconstruction. It also states that it will not cover cosmetic surgery,  nor will it cover conditions relating to previous cosmetic procedures.

Does health insurance cover complementary therapies?

Complementary therapies are usually considered in their own category by health insurers. They typically comprise the following:

  • Chiropody
  • Chiropractic treatments
  • Homeopathy
  • Acupuncture
  • Dietary services
  • Physiotherapy (some insurers define this as complementary, while others deem it necessary)

Health insurance providers often offer complementary therapies as an add-on option to their main policies.

Insurers that cover complementary and alternative therapies

AXA

AXA offers cover for out-patient treatment fees for complementary therapies including physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment, osteopathy and acupuncture. You must have its ‘Therapies’ option added to your policy which will also grant you access to a maximum of 10 GP-referred appointments in any one year.

Aviva

Aviva insures alternative therapies as an optional add-on to its core health insurance policies. It covers physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic on referral by a specialist for up to 10 sessions in total per condition.

Vitality

Vitality allows you to add ‘Therapies’ Cover to your standard health insurance policy. Doing so will give you full cover for osteopathy, chiropractic treatment, podiatry, acupuncture and homoeopathy, as well as two consultations with a dietician following a referral from your GP or consultant.

You can compare the levels of complementary therapy and the premiums across providers and policy levels by using Activequote.com.

Is 'unlimited' cover really unlimited?

The top levels of cover provided by different policies usually describe the amounts insured as ‘unlimited’ or similar. This wording sends a comforting message; that no matter what the bill, your cover will apply.

However, in practice, some features in your policy may mean this isn’t quite the case.

When you get a quote, companies will highlight some exclusions to unlimited cover. For example, while you might get unlimited cover for treatments in one hospital, you may not be covered if you need to be transferred to another one, or if you’d prefer certain treatments elsewhere.

In practice, consultants are technically free to decide their own fees, so if they choose to charge more than your insurer’s approved rate, you may not be able to claim back the full amount. Typically, this isn’t a problem because many doctors choose to charge the approved rates. However, sometimes your specific situation or location can mean there’s no option at the approved rates and you’ll be left out of pocket.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that there’s more than one person needed for an operation. For example, anaesthetists are just as critical to a procedure as a surgeon and you will also have to cover their fees.

Customer reviews can be helpful in understanding how comprehensive cover can be in practice. It's worth sifting through a few of the bad reviews (if any exist) as they can often relate to a situation where they did not receive a payout, despite the customer expecting to be covered.

Who are the biggest health insurance companies in the UK?

There are four companies that dominate UK health insurance. This section gives a brief overview of the four biggest UK health insurers and a fifth that has high search demand.

Vitality

Vitality used to be known as PruHealth. It aims to keep its customers healthy by offering a range of rewards and discounts relating to health and leisure. It has had a big marketing push in recent years, with campaigns fronted by the likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill. 

Read our full review here.

Bupa

Bupa is a giant in health insurance. Launching two years before the NHS, it owns several hospitals, care homes and dental centres across the UK. It offers private care for individuals and through some companies' benefit schemes. 

Read our full review here.

Aviva

Aviva used to be called Norwich Union and it is the biggest insurer in the UK. Its history stretches back more than 300 years and it deals with millions of claims around the world every year. 

Read our full review here.

AXA

AXA launched in 1940 and has become one of the biggest health insurance providers in the UK. AXA was named Health Insurance Provider of the year at the Moneyfacts Consumer Awards 2018. 

Read our full review here.

Health insurance reviews

Find out the important information about the best health insurance in the UK below.

Vitality Health Insurance Review

Vitality has a unique offering in the UK Health Insurance market. The company combines its healthcare offer with a set of discounts and rewards for healthy activities. Its belief is that the healthier your lifestyle, the less you’ll need to claim.

It uses technology to monitor your healthy activity and uses fitness trackers and mobile apps to get real-time updates on your fitness and rewards you accordingly. Vitality even offers a deal on an Apple Watch when you buy a qualifying health insurance or life insurance plan. That means you can get an Apple Watch Series 7 for an upfront cost of £27 and — as long as you earn 160 activity points a month for 36 months — you’ll pay nothing more (correct as of February 2022).

Vitality's Core Cover health insurance includes:

  • In-patient and day-patient treatments
  • Consultants fees
  • Out-patient surgical procedures
  • Cancer Cover (with no limits on selected therapies)
  • Oral surgery
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Rehabilitation
  • Weight loss surgery
  • Talking therapies

You can tailor your cover with additional options to get the best policy for you. Extras you can add include:

  • An additional hospital in which you want to be covered 
  • Out-patient cover (for consultations and diagnostics), 
  • Therapies cover 
  • Mental health cover 

There are some standard treatments and conditions that Vitality does not cover. These include any regular monitoring and treatment of a long-term condition (e.g. diabetes), emergency treatments, visits to your GP, organ transplants, and any experimental treatments (i.e. those that are unproven or unregistered).

To help customers engage with their health, you’ll get cashback and discounts with health brands and shops if you keep up healthy habits. You can build up points by completing healthy activities like eating well and regularly hitting 10,000 steps a day. When you have enough points, you can use them to get rewards like:

  • Free coffees at participating vendors
  • Amazon Prime memberships
  • Discounts on health screenings
  • Gym membership discount
  • Monthly cinema tickets

You can get an online health insurance quote from Vitality via their website and over the phone. To see if they are right for you, compare Vitality policies versus the market at Activequote.com.

Vitality's health insurance compares well with the best in the market. It’s rated ‘Great’ on Trustpilot, with a score of 4.2 out of 5 based on more than 24,000 reviews (correct as of Febraury 2022). Customers praise its market-leading rewards system as well as its responsive customer service team.

Bupa Health Insurance Review

Bupa sells the most health insurance policies in the UK. It has boiled down its range to two levels of cover.

  • Comprehensive — The top level of insurance that Bupa provides. This covers diagnosis (including consultations, PET, MRI and CT scans plus other diagnostic tests) and treatments (including hospital and out-patient treatments as well as mental health therapies).
  • Treatment and Care — This allows you to be diagnosed by the NHS and then receive treatment privately. It also includes two levels of cancer cover.

Bupa’s policies have fewer options to choose from compared with other providers. It only asks you to decide on what levels of outpatient and cancer cover you want, as well as the excess level you are comfortable with.

Bupa's market-leading position includes ownership of hospitals, care homes and dental practices so they understand customers’ health needs and how to treat them well. On Trustpilot, Bupa fares well on garnering an impressive 4.4 out of 5 based on more than 13,000 reviews (correct as of February 2022). While some customers praise Bupa for its good selection of hospitals and top facilities, others criticised its lack of transparency and unexplained changes to cover.

You can see how it compares with other providers using the Activequote.com comparison site.

For more in-depth information, you can also read our full BUPA Health Insurance review.

AXA PPP Healthcare Review

AXA is the second-largest provider health insurance provider in the UK and it's Bupa's main competitor and has a global value of a staggering $64.8 billion.

AXA’s core private health insurance package is called Personal Health. Its benefits include:

  • Use of AXA’s Fast Track Appointments service, which provides access to consultants and eligible treatment when you include an outpatient option on your plan.
  • Access to the latest approved cancer drugs (even if they’re not available on the NHS)
  • A directory of over 250 hospitals and thousands of consultants
  • Health at Hand, a 24-hour support helpline with nurses and counsellors
  • Health insurance for family members (including free cover for new-borns)
  • Full Cancer Cover
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Surgical procedures

One of the advantages of choosing AXA is that there is no yearly limit for fees from a specialist on its ‘fee approved’ list. That means you can get as much treatment as you need without worrying about going over your limit.

On top of AXA's Personal Health plan, you can add a number of optional extras, including:

  • Mental Health cover — Add this option to your policy to get access to in-patient, day-patient or out-patient mental health treatment. This includes cover for psychiatric treatment including accommodation, diagnostic tests and drugs.
  • Dentist and Optician Cashback — Get cashback when you pay for dentist and opticians fees. It also offers £25 a year toward the cost of your eye tests.
  • Out-patient cover — Out-patient treatment, diagnostic test and CT, MRI and PET scans.
  • Therapies cover — Out-patient treatment fees with a physiotherapist, chiropractor, osteopath, acupuncturist or homoeopath

Other variables that affect your cover and price with AXA are the level of excess you choose (£0, £100, £250 or £500) and whether or not you opt for AXA's ‘6-week rule’.

This 6-week rule is intended to allow you to get access to private treatment when NHS waiting times are long, but avoid making a claim when the NHS waiting list is short. If you opt for the 6-week rule, you'll agree to NHS treatment within 6 weeks of diagnosis. If the NHS can treat you within this period, you must take that route and private treatment is not covered. If the NHS waiting list is longer than 6 weeks, then you’re covered for private treatment.

If you opt in for the 6-weeks rule, your premium will be lower to reflect the fact that you may use NHS treatment in some cases. It works similarly to Saga's 4-week option; AXA is Saga's health insurance underwriter so it is no surprise to see some similarity in their products.

For more in-depth information, you can also read our full AXA Health Insurance review.

You can see how AXA compares with Bupa and other providers at activequote.com.

Aviva Health Insurance Review

Aviva is the largest insurer in the UK, with over 18 million customers as of February 2022. Health insurance is only one of the many products it covers: it also provides car, home and business cover.

Aviva's core health insurance package covers a wide-ranging list of illnesses and conditions, including:

  • Acute conditions — Short-term illnesses or injuries that can be easily treated, such as viruses and infections.
  • Cancer care — Cover for cancer diagnosis, treatment and aftercare (part of Aviva’s ‘Cancer Pledge’).
  • Hospital and specialist fees — Comprehensive cover for things like diagnostic tests (such as X-rays and scans), specialist treatment, and aftercare.
  • Out-patient consultations — Everything covered under hospital fees, but extending cover to out-patients too.

Aviva also provides you with access to hundreds of private hospitals and facilities throughout the UK when you choose its Expert Select or Hospital Options packages.

There are a number of additional cover options you can attach to your policy:

  • Dental and optical cover
  • Mental health treatments
  • An extended hospital list (namely, more hospitals available in the Greater London area)
  • Additional treatments and therapies (including physiotherapy and osteopathy)

However, there are some notable exclusions on an Aviva policy. Aviva won’t cover chronic illnesses like diabetes, epilepsy and asthma (with the notable exception that it will cover cancer treatments). Typically, it also excludes any pre-existing medical conditions; if you opt for Moratorium underwriting, Aviva will ask for details about any conditions you’ve had in the last five years. It will cover some pregnancy complications but won’t cover routine treatment related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Aviva has won several awards for its health insurance services. In 2020, it was named “Health Insurance & Protection Company of the Year” and “Best Individual PMI Provider” at the Health Insurance & Protection Awards. Aviva’s Insurance is rated 4.6 out of 5 based on more than 20,000 reviews on Trustpilot, however, this is for all of the insurance options that Aviva offers (true as of February 2022).

Aviva offers private health insurance online quotes through its website and over the phone. You can also compare their policies against the rest of the UK market using Activequote.com.

For more in-depth information, you can also read our full Aviva Health Insurance review.

Saga Health Insurance Review

Aimed at health care for the over 50’s, Saga health insurance offers a wide range of featured health insurance products designed to cover a variety of conditions.

Saga has four health plans to choose from:

  • Super — Saga’s most comprehensive policy, covering both in-patient and out-patient treatment as well as diagnostic procedures. It provides unlimited cover for specialist consultations. Major dental cash benefits for specified dental procedures and dental injuries benefit is also only available on Super.
  • Secure — On top of in-patient and day-patient treatments, Secure provides full cover for out-patient CT, MRI and PET scans. It also gives benefits like £2,000 towards out-patient consultations and an extra £400 towards post operative outpatient treatment such as physiotherapy.
  • Saver Plus — A cheaper alternative to the Super and Secure options that still includes some good benefits. Included is up to £1,000 towards out-patient treatment, cover for one out-patient scan and unlimited scans following eligible in-patient or day-patient treatments (as long as it’s within 8 months).
  • Support — Includes prompt access for inpatient and day patient treatment. This is Saga’s most affordable plan; to keep premiums low, it offers no out-patient cover and only surgical aspects of cancer treatment.

Saga provides a number of options that allow you to reduce cover and lower your premium, or pay more to get greater cover. These include Extended Cancer Cover, varying levels of Excess and cover for pre-existing.

A unique feature of Saga is its ‘4-week wait’ option. This reduces your premium, but in return, the policyholder has to accept NHS treatment if it is available within 4 weeks of the date of diagnosis. This is intended to provide a cost-effective method to get the advantages of rapid treatment when you need it, but avoid paying extra when you don’t. The full terms and conditions of these options can be seen on Saga's site.

Saga’s health insurance underwriter is AXA PPP Healthcare Limited. This set-up combines AXA's underwriting knowledge with Saga's focus on the over 50's market, Saga’s products and are designed specifically for people over 50’.

To learn more about Saga health insurance products visit their website.

You can compare a range of other health insurance policies using Activequote.com. It allows you to filter by pricing and cover to see how they stack up against Saga's own offering.

On the reviewer website Trustpilot, Saga has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars with an overall rating of “Excellent” based on over 29,000 reviews (correct as of February 2022). However, this is for all of the insurance products that Sage sell and isn’t exclusive to its health insurance.

Freedom Health Insurance Review

Freedom is an award-winning private medical insurer set up in 2003. It aims to offer exceptional customer service with simple, flexible products and competitive prices.

Freedom offers two core packages to choose from:

  • Elite — Freedom’s most comprehensive policy. It covers fees for eligible hospitals, specialists and diagnostic tests in full for both in-patients and day-patients. It includes things like dental surgery, diagnostic scans, cancer cover and pregnancy complications.
  • Essentials — A more affordable alternative to Elite that offers a fixed cash benefit instead of paying your hospital directly. With Freedom Essentials, you’ll be paid a lump sum for a claim which you can spend on private treatment in the UK or abroad. If you decide to use the NHS for your treatment, you’ll still receive 50% of the cash benefit to spend however you want.

While the degree of choice afforded by the Essentials package is certainly attractive, the downside is that, unlike other health insurers, they won't pick up the bill if it exceeds the cash amount you are paid upfront. If your condition turns out to be very complicated, you may find the cash is insufficient, even though Freedom aims to provide amounts that are suited to each treatment.

Freedom Health Insurance is rated well on Feefo with 4.5 out of 5 based on over 100 reviews (true as of February 2022).

To learn more, read our in-depth Freedom Health Insurance review.

Permanent Health Company Review

Perhaps less well-known than the other names in this list, the Permanent Health Company (PHC) has been offering UK Private Medical Insurance since 1994. Its policies are underwritten by AXA PPP, so while you might not recognise the name you are buying from, a big-name company is involved behind the scenes.

The Permanent Health Company’s intent has been to offer a simple product to cut through the complexity of the UK Health insurance market.

PHC offers four insurance plans, each offering different levels of cover:

  • Plan 1 — PHC’s highest level of cover. It provides comprehensive cover for both in-patients and out-patients. Other benefits include private ambulance trips, home nursing, and full cover for selected therapies (including physiotherapy). Also provides a newborn benefit.
  • Plan 2 — Affords the same benefits as Plan 1 but with a combined overall limit of up to £1,500 a year for complementary therapies. Excludes newborn benefit.
  • Plan 3 — Provides full cover for in-patient benefits. Covers out-patient CT, MRI and PET scans as well as radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Includes a limit of £1,000 on therapies.
  • Plan 4 — Provides cover for selected in-patient and day-patient treatments. Out-patient treatment is limited to two consultations per year and £500 for complementary therapies.

With the exception of Plan 4, each of PHC’s policies can be tailored with additional features, such as psychiatric cover and lower premiums with the NHS 6-week wait option.

PHC also offers customers multiple options of hospitals they want to be insured for. The basic offering is the national directory, which provides you with access to 480 hospitals in the UK. You can opt for the London upgrade, which gives you extended access to additional hospitals in the Greater London Area. Alternatively, you can choose PHC’s Specified Hospital List, which covers two of the country’s largest private hospital networks: Spire Healthcare and Ramsay Health Care UK.

You can tailor your PHC policy further by selecting the level of excess you want to pay. Excess options range from £100 to £2,500, and the higher the excess you agree to, the less you can expect to pay on your premiums.

The Permanent Health Company sells directly through its own website and over the phone. You can compare its policies and prices versus the market to find your own 'best buy' using activequote.com.

The PHC has no customer reviews on Trustpilot or Feefo (correct as of Febraury 2022).

General Medical Health Insurance Review

General & Medical was originally the supplier of health insurance for the medical profession. It offers four key policy tiers with additional options for in-patient psychiatric treatment and worldwide travel that should mean you find the policy to suit your own needs. They are as follows:

  • Essentials — A cost-effective healthcare plan providing basic cover for in-patient treatment, scans, consultations and admittance to private hospitals for surgeries.
  • Everyday — A more comprehensive level of cover than Essentials that includes out-patient cover, more expansive cancer treatments as well as cardiovascular conditons.
  • Lifestyle — Advanced cover for any hospital admissions, plus extra out-patient benefits, treatment for heart conditions and a 24-hour GP advice helpline.
  • Elite — The highest level of private health insurance that General & Medicine offers. it includes all of the beneifts of it’s other levels as well as dental, private maternity, non-UK medical cover and optical services. 

In addition, General Medical also provides a unique option that allows you to get some cover for a pre-existing condition — which almost all medical insurers exclude — including diabetes and hypertension.

The policy starts out with a low limit on claims relating to the condition in the first year, which increases every year you are claim-free. This can be attractive for people with pre-existing conditions that are now under control.

Learn more about getting health insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Alternatively, you can compare all of these providers using Activequote.com's price and feature comparison service.

On Trustpilot, General & Medical Healthcare has a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars with an overall rating of “Great” based on over 140 reviews (correct as of February 2022).

HMCA (Hospital & Medical Care Association) Health Insurance Review

HMCA offers a range of health and other insurance plans for members of trade, professional and membership groups. Its health cover is arranged through The Care Insurance Company Ltd, Gibraltar.

HMCA splits its private medical insurance into three plans:

  • Medical Care Plan — Provides benefits towards out-patient and in-patient treatments, even while you travel abroad. This is HMCA’s more comprehensive form of cover.
  • Medical Saver Plan — Covers in-patient treatment and lets you get treatment abroad too.
  • Medical Starter Plan — HMCA’s most affordable plan. It only covers in-patient treatments in the UK.

There are no excess or age restrictions on any of HMCA’s medical care plans.

Some things are excluded from HMCA’s cover. Examples include emergency admissions to A&E, radiotherapy or chemotherapy and management of long-term illnesses. However, its plans do pay cash grants towards radiotherapy or chemotherapy and for each night spent as an NHS patient. It also offers cash plans, dental cover and income protection.

To get a quote, you'll need to fill in an online form on the HMCA website and they'll get in touch with you to discuss your options.

HMCA was rated overall “Excellent” on Trustpilot with a 4.5 out of 5 star rating. However, it does have less than 100 reviews on the customer reviewer site (correct as of February 2022). 

Best healthcare insurance

No matter what level of cover you need, it’s important to make sure you’re covered. 

If you’re looking for pet insurance, get a quote here. Or if you’re in need of some more advice, check out our review pages for everything from pets to insurance! 

This article was written by ManyPets. We were not paid to write it but we will receive commission if clicking on a link to one of the named insurers results in a reader taking out a policy with that insurer. We also charge for advertising space so a particular insurer may be highlighted in the article and, where insurers are listed, it can dictate where they appear in the list.