Health insurance Finding cheap health insurance

Doctor and patient 3

Health insurance is by no means a ‘must have’ insurance product but, if you decide to shell out for it, there are ways to cut the cost.

1. Do I need health insurance?

If you're not happy with the available NHS treatment, health insurance isn't the only alternative.

Healthcare cashplans, where you pay a monthly fee and can claim back the cost of certain basic treatments, and critical illness cover, where you pay to cover specific serious illnesses, could both be more appropriate depending on your circumstances.

Find out more: What is health insurance and do I need it?

2.What if I'm already ill?

Health insurance is easier to buy if you're healthy. Many insurers exclude pre-existing medical conditions, instead focusing on essential conditions that respond quickly to treatment. Policies are also likely to exclude longer-term treatment such as kidney dialysis, or illnesses such as asthma.

This doesn’t mean that health insurance is unsuitable for those with pre-existing conditions, it just might be difficult to get the cover you need. Your best bet might be to speak to a broker.

3. Speak to a broker for help

Health insurance is a complicated product so it's probably best to speak to a broker, especially if you have had medical problems or need specialist cover for certain illnesses.

To find a broker, check out the Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries (AMII). Comparison sites are a good starting point to find out how much cover may cost.

4. Cut your costs by tweaking your policy

Once you have picked a policy, you can start to cut costs by tweaking the cover.

Start by considering your choice of hospitals. Most providers will give you a list to choose from and you may be able to cut costs if you opt for a shorter list.

Next, think about adding an excess to your policy. If you're happy to contribute to the cost of treatment yourself your premiums will fall, just make sure you can afford to pay the excess.

Also consider whether you'd be willing to have some treatment on the NHS. Some policies offer a no-claims discount, so if you only use your policy for major treatment, you may be able to save in the long run.

Finally, decide whether you want a modular policy. Some providers offer basic cover and let you add extra elements for an extra fee. Selecting the bits you want, and ignoring the bits you don’t, can help you create a policy that fits your needs and your budget.

5. Beware ditching and switching

Health insurance is nothing like car and home insurance where switching each year brings you savings. Trying to ditch your current provider to get a better deal can be tricky.

Any conditions you've developed over the life of your current policy are unlikely to be covered by your new provider as they'll be considered as pre-existing conditions.

Meanwhile, as you get older, and are considered more of a health risk by the insurance industry, your premiums will rise – making it harder to find a cheaper deal.

If you're considering ditching and switching always check your potential new policy against your existing one to make sure it has everything you need.

6. Stay as healthy as you can

Some insurers, namely Vitality Health and Aviva, will give you discounts if you stay healthy. Aviva’s scheme, MyHealthCounts, rewards you with up to 15% at renewal if you're fit and healthy, while Vitality Health provides up to £100 cashback.

7. Read the terms and conditions carefully

As with any insurance policy, always check your terms and conditions carefully. If you're unsure about your cover, call your insurer or speak with an AMII broker if you need help choosing a policy.

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