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What is couples health insurance?

Is joint health insurance a good option for you and your partner? Here's everything you need to know about health insurance for couples

A photo of Dom Limberg, the author

By Dom Limberg

Published on: 20 September 2023

10 min read

What is couples health insurance?

It’s a well-known fact that the NHS is struggling to keep up with the current demands which is causing issues with longer waiting times for consultations and treatment. If you or your partner becomes ill then you might end up having to wait longer than normal to get an appointment with your GP which can lead to other health risks.

This is where private health insurance can be the most useful and couples health insurance is often even more affordable because of extra discounts. Couples health insurance is often a cost-effective way to protect yourself against potential medical risks that you might encounter by not receiving proper treatment quickly.

The main question is are you actually losing out by insuring yourself and your partner under one policy? We don’t think so and couples health insurance isn’t a scam or a trick, just a useful way to insure you and your partner under one policy – but there will be a few downsides to consider as well.

Health insurance can be quite confusing and if you’re looking for cover for two people it might feel twice as difficult to find the right policy.  This is where it can be most helpful to do your research or even get some advice from a health insurance specialist.

QUICK SUMMARY – what is couples health insurance?

Couples health insurance (or joint private medical insurance) is a health insurance policy that covers the cost of private medical treatment for both you and your partner. Couples private health insurance also gives you faster access to medical experts and specialists to avoid potential health risks when waiting for treatment through the NHS.

  • You need to live with your partner at the same residential address (you can’t live at separate addresses)
  • Couples health insurance is often cheaper than individual health insurance because of discounts offered for joint policies
  • You’ll need to think about what might happen if you separate and potentially adding children to your policy in the future
  • A couples health insurance policy means that you’ll be able to avoid NHS waiting lists for essential treatment (e.g. Cancer treatment, joint problems and other acute medical issues)

The main points about couples health insurance is working out what you’ll want the cover to do (e.g. cancer treatment, in-patient, out-patient, dental and therapies cover), and how much you’re happy to pay each month.

Why should we buy couples health insurance?

We’re all very aware of the difficulties with accessing NHS care right now. I personally feel like health insurance is becoming a much more appealing option – and if I can protect my partner as well even better.

Strangely enough, my parents also recently decided that couples health insurance might be something they were interested in too. However, it’s important to make sure that couples health insurance is something that feels right for you and your partner.

While it’s helpful to look at other people’s opinions (we’d recommend sites like TrustPilot for independent reviews), you need to come to your own decision.

Here’s some of the main pros and cons to help you work out if couples health insurance is a good option for you.

ProCon
Helps cover the cost of private medical treatment and skip long NHS queues for the treatment you needYou can get free medical care on the NHS (and this may be enough in most cases)
Can manage cover for both of you under one policy (less hassle and admin)The best insurer for your health and situation might not be the best choice for your partner
Often includes extra benefits such as gym discounts or 24/7 online GP accessCan be more expensive if you are older or live in certain areas e.g. London
Flexible policies allow you to add and remove benefits so your policy works best for youCan sometimes be cheaper to buy two separate policies
Some insurers will provide discounts for couples policies e.g. 5% or 10% offYou need to think about what would happen with your policy if you split up

What does couples health insurance cover?

We know that the main question people will want the answer to is ‘what does couples health insurance cover?’. This makes sense as you don’t want to end up with the wrong policy or waste time claiming for things your insurer won’t pay out for.

The answer to this can vary a bit depending on the insurer and policy you choose but generally you and your partner will be covered for:

  • Inpatient medical treatment (treatment that means you have to stay in hospital overnight)
  • Day patient treatment (treatment where you need to stay in hospital for the day but not overnight e.g. minor surgeries) – not all policies will cover this as standard
  • Outpatient treatment (treatment where you don’t need to stay in hospital at all) – most providers offer this as an add on and not part of core cover

Realistically, you and your partner should sit down and decide what is most important to you to cover to help you narrow down your options. If you’re most worried about the potential cost of cancer treatment (completely understandable), you should look for an insurer with good cancer cover and treatment options.

How does couples health insurance work?

Couples health insurance works by protecting both you and your partner under one policy, giving you extra support with your health and faster access to the treatment you need.

You can apply for a specific couples policy or most providers will let you add your partner or children to your health insurance cover for an extra cost.

When you apply for health insurance as a couple, you will both have to answer some questions like:

  • If you smoke (prices can be higher for smokers)
  • If you have medical conditions (if one or both of you have medical conditions this can affect the price)
  • Where you live (your postcode and average cost of treatment in your area can affect the price)
  • How much cover you want
  • If you want to add any extra benefits e.g. dental cover
  • How much excess you want to pay (the amount paid towards the cost of your claim)
  • Choice of hospital list (your options for where you can be treated, you can choose a more limited list to cut costs)

You can choose from two types of ‘underwriting’ when you apply:

  1. Moratorium underwriting: you won’t need to answer medical questions which makes it a lot quicker to get your cover in place – if you haven’t got medical conditions this probably your best option.
  2. Full medical underwriting: We’d say this is usually a better option if one or both of you has medical conditions. Letting the insurer see your full medical history can make things easier when you claim PLUS if they exclude* anything the cost of your policy might go down.

Can couples have separate health insurance policies?

Yes, just because you can buy a joint health insurance policy doesn’t mean that you have to. If you and your partner would prefer to keep your health insurance policies separate, then you can.

It’s possible you might not both want health insurance, and this is OK. Couples don’t have to do everything together or own everything jointly and this applies to health insurance too.

You could look into it and find that one of you wants cover and the other doesn’t. There’s no point wasting your money and buying cover for two people if one of you doesn’t want it or isn’t overly bothered. There are some definite up sides to choosing couples cover though like:

Benefits of couples health insurance include:

  • Can easily manage health insurance for both of you with less admin
  • Much easier to switch to a family policy in the future if you have children
  • Some health insurance providers will offer discounts and incentives to couples
  • Avoid long NHS queues for medical treatment and consultations
  • Choice of where and when you are treated (usually from a pre-approved list of specialists and private hospitals)

I think we’re all a little bit worried about the NHS at the minute and how much it might cost if we had to go private for our care.

We’ve had a look for you to give you a rough idea of costs if you or your partner needed a medical procedure in a UK private hospital.

Private medical procedureAverage cost*
Ankle surgery£6,400
Carpal tunnel surgery£2,000
Cataract surgery£2,800
Colonoscopy£2,400
Consultations (with specialists)£200
Cruciate ligament reconstruction£7,500
Gallbladder removal£6,500
Gastroscopy£2,000
Hernia surgery£3,500
Hip replacement£13,500
Knee replacement (consultation)£1,400
Knee replacement (surgery)£14,700
Liposuction£4,500
Lumbar decompression (consultation)£1,300
Lumbar decompression (surgery)£6,500
Shoulder replacement£13,500
Vasectomy£1,300

*these are an average estimation of costs and the prices could be higher based on where you live and the specialist you choose.

Frequently asked questions about couples health insurance

Here’s some of the UK’s most commonly asked questions for buying health insurance as a couple.

Do you have to be married to get couples health insurance?

It’s a common myth that only married couples can buy insurance policies together and it’s simply not true.

As long as you officially live together, insurers won’t have a problem with giving you a couples health insurance policy.

How much is private health insurance for a couple?

This is a tricky question as realistically it depends on which insurer and which policy you want. As a general rule of thumb, expect to pay around double what you would pay for a single health insurance policy. You’re getting twice the cover as you’re covering the cost of healthcare for two people, so this makes sense.

Remember though that this won’t always be the case especially if one of you has a medical condition or one of you is several years older. Both of these things would affect how much you pay for your policy.

There are a few main things that will affect the price like:

  • How old you both are
  • Where you live (the cost of medical care will vary based on post code)
  • Both of your medical histories
  • If either of you smoke (or both of you)

Does Bupa cover my partner?

Bupa is one of the main names that comes to mind when you think of health insurance (it was certainly the one I was most familiar with in the past). Bupa is one of the UK’s main and best-known health insurance providers – and they also offer discounts for couples policies.

At the minute they’re offering 5% off the cost of buying two single health insurance policies. I’ll admit this isn’t a huge discount, but it will definitely make a difference in how much you’re paying for your cover.

Benefits of Bupa health insurance:

  • Covers the most mental health conditions of any insurer in the UK
  • 24/7 health support services
  • Breakthrough cancer care (access to drugs not available on the NHS)
  • Bupa rewards (e.g. 10% off health assessments, dental care discounts and 40% off gym memberships)

More information – Bupa – Couples health insurance

Where can I buy cheap health insurance for couples?

I’d love to get health insurance for myself and my partner, but budget is definitely a big concern as health insurance can be on the expensive side.

Luckily, there’s some simple ways to lower the cost of health insurance for couples.

  1. Do some research – some providers will offer discounts for couples policies or allow you to add your partner to an individual policy for a small cost. Have a good look at all your options to work out what’s cheapest.
  2. Think about how much cover you need – think carefully about how much cover you really need and if you can remove any benefits to cut costs.
  3. Pay higher excess – if you can afford to pay a higher excess when you claim, this can lead to lower prices for your policy
  4. Check price comparison sites for good deals – it can be helpful to look on sites like MoneySuperMarket or Compare the Market to get a rough idea of prices available across the market
  5. Speak to a health insurance expert – this is the easiest way to save money on your policy, as an expert will know which insurers are offering the best prices and discounts

Is couple health insurance cheaper than singles?

To be honest, couples health insurance isn’t always cheaper than buying two single policies. It shouldn’t be massively more expensive though – prices are normally fairly similar.

Some insurers like Bupa will offer a discount for joint health insurance policies which can help if your budget is tighter. If you’re after a bargain, it’s worth doing some research to see what deals and discounts are currently available.

Insurers are always fighting to appeal to new customers so while Bupa is currently offering the best discount (5% off in your first year), this might change. Your best bet is to speak to a health insurance specialist who will know which insurers offer discounts and the right cover for what you need.

Can divorced couples share health insurance?

You’d be surprised how often this question comes up and many divorced couples will opt to share a health insurance policy. Usually this will be if your policy also covers your children and you want their private healthcare access to continue.

How to claim on couples health insurance

Don’t worry it’s not twice as hard to claim on couples health insurance or ridiculously complicated.

Claims processes can vary a bit between insurers but usually when one of you needs to claim you will have to:

  1. See your own GP about your symptoms and get an open referral for treatment
  2. Contact the insurer to start the claim (contact details will be in your policy documents or on their website)
  3. Answer a few questions (so they can check that your claim is valid)
  4. Your claim is approved and you can arrange your treatment with a specialist (normally one that is approved by the insurance company)
  5. Have your treatment and the insurer will pay the bill for you (they’ll contact the treatment provider so you won’t need to do anything)

There’s loads of reasons why you might want to cancel your health insurance and they’re all valid. You can cancel a joint health insurance policy whenever you want and for any reason.

All you will need to do is get in touch with your provider and let them know you want to cancel your cover. It can be a bit annoying to try and find the right contact details but usually there should be a section on their website with the right information.

How to find the best health insurance for couples

The easiest way to find the best available policy for you and your partner is to speak to a health insurance specialist. Whether you want a brand new policy or are thinking of adding your partner to your current cover, an expert will give you free advice about what to do.

There are a lot of options out there for health insurance and getting the right advice can help you make sure you’re choosing the best policy for you and your partner. A health insurance specialist will be able to provide you with quotes from all the main insurers to help you compare and choose the right policy.

For more information or free advice, you can call our trusted health insurance partners on 0800 009 6559 or click here.

More health guides

Here’s a list of more of our handy MPO guides about health and health related insurance policies.

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