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Top tips for buying cheap health insurance

Here's all our top tips for how to find the right health insurance at a price that won’t break the bank

A photo of Dom Limberg, the author

By Dom Limberg

Published on: 25 September 2023

8 min read

Top tips for buying cheap health insurance

It’s very easy to assume that private health insurance is only for high earners and those with a massive budget. This actually isn’t true and there are easy ways to make your health insurance more affordable.

It can feel a bit impossible to find fair prices at times, or to know what a fair price is because there are so many different options available. Here we are explaining our best tips for saving money on your health insurance and the main reasons that you could be spending way more than you need to be.

How to find cheap health insurance

Private health insurance works by helping you to cover some or all of the cost of private medical treatments.

The main question you might have is how do I go about finding cheap health insurance? There are three main ways to check which health insurance policies are available to you. you can choose the way that works best for you and how much time you have to spend on this.

  1. Do the research yourself – go online and check out what’s available and what feels like a good fit for you and how much you want to spend
  2. Use a price comparison site – you can use websites like MoneySuperMarket or Compare the Market to quickly compare pricing
  3. Talk to a health insurance specialist – an expert will be able to tell you which policies are in your price range and the benefits that are included with them.

Am I spending too much money on my health insurance?

It’s a good idea to ask yourself every now and then if you’re paying too much for your insurance policies. This applies to any type of insurance such as car or home insurance, life insurance and health insurance too.

You’re never permanently tied into an insurance policy, and it doesn’t do any harm to have a look around and see what else is out there. You might find that there are other insurers that can provide similar benefits to your current policy for a fraction of the price.

It’s always worth reviewing your cover every now and then to check if you’re paying more than you need to. Here are some of the ways in which you might be spending too much on your health insurance policy.

1. You’re with the wrong provider

It’s possible that the insurance provider you’ve chosen was the right choice at the time. They might have had some brilliant benefits and the lowest cost when you applied. Insurers are always battling to be the best on the market, so you might find that another insurer can now offer you a better price.

2. You’re paying for benefits that you don’t need

One great thing about health insurance is that policies are normally really flexible. Most of the time you will be able to add or remove specific benefits from your cover. If you chose your policy a long time ago or didn’t dive too deep into what was covered, you might be paying for benefits you’re not even using.

Have a look and reassess the level of cover that you need and if you can get away with switching to policy with less cover. This could help you save significantly on your health insurance premiums.

Note: Insurers will not usually cover pre-existing or chronic conditions. If you choose full medical underwriting, the insurer will take your medical history into account and remove certain benefits. This could be helpful if you want to save money.

3. Your needs have changed since you bought the policy

Family health insurance is really appealing for anyone who wants to protect their partner and children as well as themselves. However, your children won’t be covered indefinitely and they will reach an age well they won’t be on your plan anymore.

Why do health insurance prices vary?

Health insurance doesn’t cost the same for everybody because the price is based on several factors. Also, as with any type of insurance, the base price set by your insurer may differ depending on the one you choose.

Luckily for you when you’re trying to compare costs, insurance providers will normally look at the same factors when deciding on price.

These factors are:

  • How old you are (age)
  • The combined age of your household (family health insurance)
  • Where in the UK you live (post code)
  • How much excess you’re willing to pay
  • If you want to add any extra benefits to your policy e.g. mental health cover
  • The hospital list you choose

UK insurance providers really work hard to get more customers. This works to the consumers advantage because it means they are always reworking policies and trying to offer the best benefits and the lowest prices.

It can be difficult when you’re looking for the cheapest health insurance provider. In the past most UK households wouldn’t have had health insurance because they would have found it too expensive.

Newer policies are luckily much more flexible and so a lot cheaper than health insurance would have been in previous years. The key thing when looking for a low cost policy is to remember that you shouldn’t get rid of important benefits in an attempt to save. If the provider you’re looking at is charging too much for the benefits that you need, shop around for better pricing.

Another thing that is important to remember is that some providers will have more experience and more products for specific types of people. For example, if you are a smoker you might find that certain providers will offer better prices compared to others.

Here is a handy table that we have put together to try and make things a little easier for you.

Best prices for smokersBest prices for familiesBest prices for older customersBest prices for younger customersBest prices for people with medical conditions
The Exeter
The Exeter
The Exeter
AXA Health
The Exeter
The Exeter

Top 10 tips to getting cheap health insurance

And now for the main event… here we have our MPO 10 top tips for how you can save money on your health insurance policy.

1. Shop around for quotes

This is the oldest trick in the book but it really does work. Don’t settle for the first quote that you get. Decide on the level of cover you need and the benefits that are important to you and then check prices across a few providers. If this is too confusing for you to do yourself, you can make use of price comparison websites or ask a health insurance expert for advice.

2. Pay a higher excess amount

Health insurance is really similar to other types of insurance like car insurance or home insurance. with these policies you need to pay an excess when you claim. An excess is an amount of money that you agree with your insurance provider that you will pay towards the cost of a claim.

Usually you will be given some options when you apply for your policy as to how much excess you will pay. The higher the excess amount that you agree to, the lower the cost of your policy in most cases.

Excess amounts can vary from ‘zero excess’ all the way up to around £5000. Make sure you don’t agree to the highest excess if you wouldn’t actually be able to afford to pay this. It’s not worth agreeing to more excess that you can’t afford just to get your monthly payments down.

3. Keep your eyes peeled for discounts

We all love a bargain and believe it or not you can quite often get discounts on policies like health insurance. Many providers will offer things such as 10% discounts for families and others will offer rewards to their members.

Vitality is the best example of this. They have a brilliant reward scheme which gives their members discounts on holidays, cinema tickets, smart watches and more based on building activity points. This is a smart way to keep their members fit and healthy (and so less likely to claim) while also offering some attractive rewards.

It’s worth asking when you apply if there are any discounts available. Sometimes you might be able to get a discount simply by asking the question. Some insurance providers will offer discounts for people in certain occupations too such as NHS workers or teachers.

4. Don’t get more cover than you really need

Don’t be tempted to add on benefits that you simply don’t need. It’s easy to get carried away especially when you’re concerned about looking after your health and the health of the people you care about.

Don’t agree to every single benefit being offered by your provider without thinking carefully about whether you need it and whether you can afford the cost long term.

5. Think about family cover (you might save money in the long run!)

You might not believe us but trust me you might be able to save by covering more people. If you and your partner both want health insurance, lots of providers will offer discounts for joint policies or family health cover. This allows you to get the private healthcare you want for a lower cost.

You don’t have to be married to qualify for a joint insurance policy. Most insurers will be happy to give a joint policy to anyone as long as they live in the same household. You’ll normally be able to save around 10% on the cost of your policy every year.

It’s also easier than trying to juggle multiple policies e.g. individual cover and children’s health insurance policies.

6. Choose treatment only cover

Another good option for people on a tighter budget is treatment only cover. This is less comprehensive as the cover is a bit more basic. You might hear these policies referred to as core cover options.

So they won’t cover everything but will usually cover the main things that people are concerned about the cost of. This includes things like cancer treatment diagnostic tests inpatient care and more. You will need to be diagnosed initially by an NHS hospital but your health insurance will then take it from there. You will then be covered for the cost of private treatment in a private hospital or medical centre.

The best providers for treatment only plans are:      

7. Pick the right provider

This is a tip that applies to any type of insurance policy. You should always do some research so you’re comfortable and confident that the provider you’ve chosen is the right one.

Our first suggestion would be to do a quick search online to see what insurance providers are out there and if they feel like a good fit for the cover you need. Have a proper look on their website to try and narrow down your options. If you’re still not sure, talk to a health insurance specialist or broker for some extra support.

8. Consider a 6 week wait option or consultant select

Two policy options that work well for people who don’t want to spend as much are six week wait options or consultant select options.

A six week wait option is where you will accept NHS treatment and not private medical care, if they can successfully treat you within six weeks. This can equal much lower prices but still work well if you end up needing treatment for things that are usually a longer wait such as a hip replacement.

Note: serious medical problems that will need immediate attention will be treated on the NHS. This means acute conditions like having a heart attack wouldn’t be covered. A&E visits won’t normally be covered with this type of plan.

Consultant select is where the provider will choose the specialist or hospital for your treatment for you. If you aren’t as bothered about choosing a specific consultant for your treatment and still want to benefit from private care this could work for you.

9. Look for flexible policies

Health insurance is a lot more adaptable now than it ever has been. Make sure you’re choosing the right health insurance plan and don’t pay more than you need to.

Some policies will automatically include benefits that you don’t need. Check the policy terms and conditions carefully before you agree to anything. Some health insurance plans will be more flexible than others and will allow you to custom build the cover you need.

10. Get some help from an expert

How to compare health insurance prices

If you’re looking for budget friendly life insurance, the easiest way to compare prices is to speak to a health insurance specialist. An expert will be able to speed through the process for you, quickly comparing what different insurers offer in terms of coverage and cost.

For health insurance advice, you can speak to our expert health insurance partners on 0800 009 6559 or click here.

Useful health insurance guides

Here are more of our recent MPO news and guides about health insurance and health related topics.

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