What is health insurance?

Health insurance, often called private medical insurance, is an insurance policy that covers the costs of private healthcare, from diagnosis to treatment.

You will pay a monthly subscription that covers all or some of the cost of treatment for acute conditions that develop after your health insurance policy has begun. You may take out health insurance as it gives you quick access to medical treatment.

What type of health insurance are you looking for?

Choose the right cover for you

We have two different types of health insurance cover to choose from. You can choose between Comprehensive health insurance, or Treatment and Care health insurance

You can use our comparison table to see what is and isn't covered, and find a health insurance policy that's suited to you.

Comprehensive health insurance

Treatment and Care health insurance

Compare health insurance

How can Bupa help you?

Check out our guides for tips, advice and information. You can also read about key health topics, such as looking after yourself as a parent and taking care of your children's health.

The cost of your private health insurance cover will depend on two factors: your personal circumstances and the type of private health insurance policy you choose. Other factors that impact the cost of your private health insurance include your age, where you live and if you smoke.

Your health insurance policy is unique to you and the cost will depend on the level of cover you want. For example, you can choose the level of excess you want to pay, and your policy benefit limits.

Alongside our health insurance, we offer a health cash plan, which allows you to spread the cost of some of your everyday health expenses for a regular, monthly premium.

Learn more about the cost of health insurance

Before you take out health insurance, it’s important to understand how it works. Health insurance covers the cost of private healthcare for conditions that develop after your policy has begun.

Depending on the level of cover, private health insurance may cover you for treatment as an in-patient, out-patient, or day patient. You will usually pay a monthly fee and then make claims for any eligible private healthcare you receive.

One of the main benefits of private healthcare is that you’ll often get access to treatment faster than on the NHS. Health insurance can get you access to new drugs or specialist treatments that may not be available, too.

Learn more about how health insurance works

Most health insurance policies include cover for in-patient and day-patient treatment in private hospitals. More comprehensive health insurance policies will provide additional benefits such as out-patient treatment (scans, tests, x-rays and hospital appointments where you aren't admitted).

Bupa private health insurance policies cover more mental health conditions than any other leading insurer††, offer digital GP appointments and Direct Access to specialist advice and treatment for some conditions.

The best health insurance policies are clear about the exclusions. Most private health policies exclude emergency treatment, maternity care, cosmetic surgery, and treatment for chronic or pre-existing conditions.

Learn more about what’s covered in a typical health insurance policy

Before taking out health insurance, you’ll need to decide what health insurance cover is right for your health and wellbeing needs. Think about what you want from your medical insurance policy – picking the right cover depends on your personal circumstances.

We offer two levels of private health insurance cover: Treatment and Care and Comprehensive. Both policies can be adapted to suit your individual health needs. It’s easy to get a health insurance quote online – all you need to do is fill out a few personal details and some lifestyle questions, which helps us work out the overall cost of your health insurance policy.

Your health insurance policy will begin from the moment you’ve agreed what cover is right for you, and you’ve set up your Direct Debit. Once you’re a Bupa health insurance member, we will send you all the documentation that details what is and isn’t covered. As all our policies are different, so it’s important to check yours thoroughly.

An excess is the amount you’ll have to pay towards your treatment when you make a claim on your health insurance policy. The excess you choose can have a big impact on your policy, especially when it comes to deciding the cost of your cover, so it’s important to understand how it will impact your health insurance.

If you make a claim on your health insurance, the amount of excess on your policy is what you’ll pay towards your treatment or procedure. Not every private health insurance policy will have the same kind of excess, so it’s important to first familiarise yourself with all available excess options from your chosen provider.

Both of our health insurance policies – Treatment and Care and Comprehensive – offer flexible excess options, where you can either choose £0, £100, £150, £200, £250 or £500.

Learn more about health insurance excess

There are a few ways to lower the cost of your health insurance cover, but remember, a cheaper plan might not provide all the cover you need for your health and wellbeing.

You may want to choose a higher excess to reduce the monthly cost of your private health insurance policy. However, you will have to pay this amount if you need treatment.

If you’re interested in taking out health insurance for you and your loved ones, some health insurance cover will provide savings if you’re a couple or you insure your family.

Several factors influence the cost of your health insurance. Unhealthy lifestyle choices, like smoking for example, may also increase your monthly premium. So, if you choose to stop smoking, it’s important to tell us, as this may reduce the cost of your cover.

Learn more about how to lower the cost of your private health insurance

Pre-existing conditions, and related ailments are often excluded from your policy because health insurance is designed to treat new conditions that occur after your cover has started. When you take out health insurance cover with us, we’ll normally ask you to fill out a medical history form to help us confirm what your policy will and won’t cover for you.

It's important to understand what won’t be covered on your private health insurance policy. For example, your policy may not cover any chronic conditions you have. A chronic condition is a condition that:

  • Needs ongoing or long-term monitoring through consultations, examinations, check-ups and/or tests
  • Needs ongoing or long-term control or relief of symptoms
  • It has no known cure
  • It comes back or is likely to come back
  • It continues indefinitely
  • It requires your rehabilitation or for you to be specially trained to cope with it

Depending on your policy, you may be able to claim for chronic condition flare-ups.

Learn more about health insurance exclusions

No – there isn’t an age limit for taking out health insurance cover. To be fair to everyone, age is one of the factors we use to calculate the cost of your policy.

The benefits of taking out health insurance when you get older is the same as with any age. You’ll be covered from diagnosis to treatment for conditions that develop after your policy has begun, and you will have a choice of hospital networks.

If you take out family health insurance, we cover children with no upper age limit, providing they remain a resident at the policy holder’s address. Whatever your age, if you are looking to take out health insurance, simply get a quote online.

It’s important to compare different health insurance policies before you decide on the right cover for you. From individual health insurance to family health insurance, first decide on the type of private healthcare that suits your needs.

The best health insurance providers will make it clear what’s available and what isn’t, to help you decide on the best policy. It’s important to look at exactly what’s covered – and what isn’t – before you take out health insurance.

You can compare health insurance plans on our website, or you can call us on 0808 115 4494 to find out what we can offer you.

Yes – you can add your partner (providing you both live at the same address) or dependents onto your policy at any time.

The cost of your couple’s health insurance or family health insurance will depend on several factors, including where you live, your ages, your health and how much excess you choose to pay. You can choose to pay for your private healthcare in monthly instalments or annually.

If you’re looking to add someone onto your health insurance policy, simply call us on 0808 115 3157.

^We may record or monitor our calls. Lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 9am to 12.30pm.

†As of August 2021, this comparison to other products in the market is based on Bupa's and Defaqto's interpretation of the differences between Bupa By You health insurance and other health insurance products offering mental health cover. The comparison excludes any special offers or promotions which may temporarily alter the cover offered. Cover comparison information is for personal use and guidance only and does not constitute any contractual representation, warranty or obligation by either Bupa or Defaqto about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability of the comparison. Neither party accepts any liability for errors, omissions, direct or consequential loss in relation to this comparison.

See PDF How we compare: Individuals (PDF 0.2MB)

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Bupa health insurance is provided by Bupa Insurance Limited. Registered in England and Wales No. 3956433. Bupa Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Arranged and administered by Bupa Insurance Services Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England and Wales No. 3829851. Registered office: 1 Angel Court, London, EC2R 7HJ