Compare private health insurance

If you are searching for private health insurance that will cover you for medical treatment in the UK, then you have come to the right place. It may seem like a challenge to find the best health insurance, as there are so many options available.

Unlike other insurance products, private healthcare can be more complicated to compare like for like policies. Fortunately, we know each health insurers policies inside out and have put together guides to help you review what each has to offer.

We compare the top private healthcare providers in the UK and offer free advice to make sure you fully understand your policy before purchasing.

The UK's best health insurers

Selecting the best private health insurance can be difficult so we have reviewed and compared a number of the best health insurers in the UK, showing you the best and most comprehensive private health insurance cover.

Using both our knowledge and experience of each of the UK’s best private health insurance providers, we have produced a review guide on each individual one. Find out more about what cover they do or don’t offer. Each review has ‘Key Points’ as well as ‘Things to consider’. See below in no particular order.

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We compare the top health insurers, including AXA Health, Bupa and Vitality

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AXA Health

High level review:

AXA Health is one of the most well-known private health insurers in the market. Up until 2020 AXA Health was most commonly known as AXA PPP, but a slight name change was incorporated when they merged this brand with both Health-on-Line and Health Services/ICAS UK.

An important consideration to draw your attention to is that AXA Health’s core private health insurance policies do not offer outpatient cover as standard. It most certainly can though be added as an option and there two levels to choose from – Standard or Full. And even if no additional outpatient cover is selected, they will still cover MRI, CT, and PET scans as part of the core cover along with outpatient surgery.

The standard option with AXA offers a good saving without restricting scans and tests like some other UK health insurers.

Other noteworthy points are:

  • The Personal Health policy offers an extensive hospital network, including top London hospitals.
  • Unlike some insurers, AXA Health offer child only cover.
  • Will provide cover for overage dependants.
  • If you use your therapies benefit, this will not count as a claim on your health insurance policy and does not affect your No Claims Discount (NCD).

Things to consider:

  • If you are looking for family cover and one or more members has had cancer treatment or follow-ups in the last five years before the join date, AXA Health will downgrade all members on the policy to NHS Cancer support. If you find yourself in this position, one solution is to split the policy up.
  • If you have made more than three claims in the last five years, you cannot switch to AXA Health.
  • Loading on the premium for anyone who has used nicotine products within the last two years.
  • AXA Health will load the members premium if, when joining the client has had any of the following in the last five years:
    • Heart Conditions or Heart Problems
    • Strokes
    • Cancers
    • Diabetes
    • Mental Health Conditions


High level review:

As one of the UK’s most established health insurance providers, Bupa doesn’t just concentrate on providing excellent health insurance cover, but is also dedicated to helping people lead longer, healthier and happier lives.

Bupa offers three policies to suit different customer needs, which are:

  • Bupa By You (comprehensive cover)
  • Bupa Treatment and Care (in or day patient only)
  • Bupa Fundamentals (limited outpatient option); only available through health insurance brokers like Healthcare Clarity

Other noteworthy points are:

  • Bupa does not restrict cover for new customers who are aged over 65 or 70, unlike some of the other top health insurers.
  • Bupa now have six different hospital lists to choose from.

Things to consider:

  • If you choose to limit your outpatient cover on a Bupa By You product, this also limits your access to outpatient diagnostic scans and tests that are not MRI, CT or PET scans.
  • There is currently no option to add on face to face private GP cover to personal plans, however private GP is included as standard as an online service via Babylon Health
Aviva Health Insurance


High level review:

Aviva are a big name in the insurance market. In the 20 years that they have been known as Aviva they have grown to become a multinational insurance company, trading in across 16 countries.

Aviva’s Healthier Solutions is a comprehensive policy, allowing the flexibility to add optional extras. If you are working on a budget then this is an insurer worth exploring.

Other noteworthy points are:

  • Aviva offer customers ‘No Claims Discount ‘protection
  • New customers are offered a price guarantee, in which Aviva commit to not increasing your premium at your first renewal (providing you have not made a claim).
  • Aviva have a choice of four different hospital lists, which gives the flexibility to meet individual budgets and needs.
  • Aviva tend to be competitive in certain areas of the UK, such as Scotland and Northern Ireland, as they have a specialist hospital list designed especially for these areas.
  • With your Aviva private health insurance policy, you will have access to a private GP via a digital app for expert advice and video consultations.

Things to consider:

  • If you have claimed in the last 24 months and are looking to switch your health insurance policy to Aviva, you’re likely to expect less competitive prices in this instance.
  • If you live in or around London, the pricing for Top London hospitals can often be much higher than other providers.
  • If you limit the outpatient cover, you are also limiting outpatient diagnostic tests and scans that are not MRI, CT or PET scans, such as blood tests or x-rays, for example.
The Exeter Logo

The Exeter

High level review:

The Exeter is a mutual society, meaning they don’t have any shareholders to pay, which enables them to reinvest the profits back into the business for the benefit of their members.

If you are new to health insurance it’s quite possible that you may have never heard of The Exeter, however their customer service and comprehensive policy offering is not something to be overlooked.

One thing that differentiates them from other health insurers is that they offer a choice between ‘no claims discount’ or ‘community rated’ policy. The latter is a structure where future premiums reflect the claims made by a wider pool of customers, not individual claims.

Other noteworthy points are:

  • They try to offer competitive prices for families or those adding a partner to their policy.
  • Their HealthWise App offers quick and convenient medical advice and medical treatment services.

Things to consider:

  • Limiting your outpatient cover with The Exeter to reduce the premium will also limit some outpatient scans and tests. In contrast, other providers like AXA Health and Vitality will fully cover these with a limited outpatient option.
Freedom Health Insurance logo 22

Freedom Health Insurance

High level review:

Founded in 2003, Freedom Health Insurance is an award-winning private medical insurance (PMI) provider aiming to offer exceptional customer service and simple yet flexible products at competitive premiums for people living in the United Kingdom (UK) and overseas.

They offer a range of products suited to individuals, families, and businesses insuring two employees upwards, including Freedom Elite, Freedom Your Choice and Freedom Worldwide.

One of the most noteworthy differences between Freedom’s health insurance versus other leading insurers in this review, is that they offer a price guarantee to all new customers. This guarantee is that regardless of whether you claim or not your premium will not rise for two years.

Other noteworthy points are:

  • Children up until their 25th birthday who are in full-time education can be added to your policy.
  • Freedom offer community-rated policies, meaning that you do not have a “no claims discount” attached to the policy; it’s more like joining a big group scheme.
  • Freedom has various levels of outpatient cover to suit all budgets.
  • There are no restrictions on consultant choice and have a wide network of hospitals to choose from.

Things to consider:

  • If you restrict your outpatient cover with Freedom, you are also restricting some diagnostic tests as a result. In contrast, other providers like AXA and Vitality will fully cover these with a limited outpatient option.
  • Age Limit – You can’t join after the age of 70.
general & medical health insurance logo

General & Medical

High level review:

General & Medical are long established players in the provision of medical and other specialist insurance services to professionals, businesses and families both within the UK and internationally. Although providing medical insurance remains a core activity for the group, they have developed many other services and insurance products.

General & Medical offer four different policies;

  • Essential
  • Everyday
  • Lifestyle
  • Elite

One noticeable point we had to point out in this review, is that unlike so many other providers General & Medical are not postcode rated. The dismissing of this factor from the calculation of your health insurance premium, could be of benefit to those living in area’s that are deemed more expensive to insure.

Other noteworthy points are:

  • Their policies provide added benefits not available by other insurers such as (private maternity, cash benefits for boarding pets, parking charges cover is just to name a few).
  • They do not operate a No Claims Discount, policies are community rated.
  • They have been selling PMI in the UK for 30 years.
  • General & Medical are the preferred provider of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI).

Things to consider:

  • On some General and Medical plans there is a cap on cancer treatment.
  • If you limit your outpatient cover with General and Medical by selecting any Everyday or Essentials plan you will have restrictions on your outpatient cover that you may exceed at point of claim, whereas other providers like AXA Health and Vitality will cover these in full with a limited out-patient option.
  • When considering General and Medical as an option please check with your advisor that the hospital list you are taking is sufficient for your needs as there are 3 different lists and they are all considerably different.
National friendly Health insurance

National Friendly

High level review:

Although you may not be as familiar with National Friendly as some of the other insurers in this review, that should not be a reason to dismiss them. In fact, they have also have some great offerings.

National Friendly focus on offering a fair and friendly service. One such way they achieve this is by not penalising you for claims. Any claims you make won’t affect your renewal premium for the first five years.

National Friendly’s Optimum policy provides a comprehensive hospital list and offers inpatient or outpatient cover – although these can be sold separately.

Other noteworthy points are:

  • Unlike their competitors, National Friendly offer a to the client, which means that they do not take into account the clients claim’s history until the 5-year period has expired.
  • This plan is available from ages 18 years to 75 years, but it is aimed at the over 50’s market, where National Friendly feel that they are most competitive.
  • They do not load for CPME (switch) business.
  • If you opt for a zero excess, there is very little price increase to the premium.
  • Discounted price for taking out both inpatient and outpatient cover.

Things to consider:

  • No option available for full outpatient care with National Friendly, whereas other providers like AXA Health and Vitality will cover these in full with a limited out-patient option.
  • MRI, CT and PET scans come out of your outpatient limit.
  • Cancer cover doesn’t cover stem cell therapy and bone marrow transplants.
  • No option for mental health treatment.
  • Access to virtual GP 24/7.