Guide to UK Health Insurers

Market Leaders

Bupa

Circa 36% market share
Main offices – Staines and Manchester

Target audiences for health insurance – Individual, Small-Medium Business, Corporate

Bupa (British United Provident Association) is probably the name most synonymous with health insurance in the UK. 

Founded in 1947 (just one year prior to the NHS), Bupa is a not-for-profit organisation with no shareholders and all profits reinvested into the business. 

Bupa have diversified over the years into travel insurance, care homes, health assessments and occupational health.

Cover options for businesses

Plan name(s) Select
In/day-patient treatment Yes
Option to cover specialist fees in full Yes
Out-patient options £1,000, Full cover
Therapies/complementary treatment £250 or Full cover
Psychiatric/mental health as an in-patient 28 days or 45 days
Cancer treatment Full cover
Optional cash benefit options Yes
Dental & Optical cover options No – separate Dental and Cash Plans available
Travel cover option Yes – as separate policy
Virtual GP Yes
Employee Assistance Programme No
Hospital lists Participating and Partnership
Excesses

Cover options for individuals

Plan name(s) BBY (Comprehensive or Treatment Care)
In/day-patient treatment Yes
Option to cover specialist fees in full No
Out-patient options £500, £750, £1000, Full cover
Therapies/complementary treatment Up to £350 
Psychiatric/mental health as an in-patient 28 days 
Cancer treatment Full cover, NHS Cancer Cover Plus, No cover (optional extra of cancer assist)
Optional cash benefit options Included in core cover
Dental & Optical cover options Yes
Travel cover option Yes 
Virtual GP Yes
Hospital lists Essential, Extended, Extended with central London
Excesses £0, £100, £150, £200, £250, £500, £1000, £2000

AXA PPP

Circa 33% market share 

Main offices – Tunbridge Wells and Leicester

Target audiences for health insurance – Individual, Small-Medium Business, Corporate 

Set up in 1938 and originally known as the London Association for Hospital Services.  In 1999 AXA PPP Healthcare was acquired and became part or the wider AXA Group, which is a household name internationally.  In March 2012 the company acquired Bournemouth-based specialist online Private Medical Insurance provider Health-on-Line and followed this with subsequent acquisitions of SimplyHealth and the Permanent Health Company (PHC) in 2015.

Cover options for businesses

Plan name(s)

Business Health Select

In/day-patient treatment

Yes

Option to cover specialist fees in full

Yes (with extended cover option)

Out-patient options

Standard, Enhanced, Full

Therapies/complementary treatment

None, Full cover

Psychiatric/mental health as an in-patient

None, Full cover

Cancer treatment

Full cover

Optional cash benefit options

No

Dental & Optical cover options

Yes

Travel cover option

Yes

Virtual GP

Yes

Employee Assistance Programme

Yes

Hospital lists

One hospital list covering all UK hospitals

Excesses

Cover options for individuals

Plan name(s)

Personal Health, Health for You, InSpire 

In/day-patient treatment

Yes (Six week option)

Option to cover specialist fees in full

No 

Out-patient options

None, Standard, Full 

Therapies/complementary treatment

None, Full cover

Psychiatric/mental health as an in-patient

None, 30 days, Full cover  

Cancer treatment

Full, NHS Cancer support 

Optional cash benefit options

No 

Dental & Optical cover options

Yes

Travel cover option

Yes

Virtual GP

With extended cover 

Hospital lists

Personal Health, Health for You, InSpire

Excesses

£100, £250, £500

Aviva Healthcare

Circa 13% market share

Main offices – Eastleigh and Sheffield

Target audiences for health insurance – Individual, Small-Medium Business, Corporate 

Founded as Norwich Union Healthcare in 1990 as the healthcare arm of Norwich Union.  A merger with CGU in 2000 saw it become known briefly as CGNU before becoming part of the Aviva Group.  Aviva is well-known and recognised globally and they have been operating in the individual, SME and large corporate health insurance space for some time.

Cover options for businesses

Plan name(s)

Solutions

In/day-patient treatment

Yes (six week option)

Option to cover specialist fees in full

No

Out-patient options

£0, £1,000, £1,500, Full cover

Therapies/complementary treatment

Included within out-patient limit

Psychiatric/mental health as an in-patient

None, 28 days, 45 days

Cancer treatment

Full cover

Optional cash benefit options

No

Dental & Optical cover options

Yes

Travel cover option

No

Virtual GP

Yes

Employee Assistance Programme

No

Hospital lists

Signature, Trust, Key, Extended

Excesses

£0, £50, £100, £150, £200, £250, £500

Cover options for individuals

Plan name(s)

Healthier Solutions, 

In/day-patient treatment

Full, Six week 

Option to cover specialist fees in full

No

Out-patient options

None, £500, £1000, Full

Therapies/complementary treatment

Within out-patient cover limit

Psychiatric/mental health as an in-patient

None, 28 days

Cancer treatment

Full cover 

Optional cash benefit options

No 

Dental & Optical cover options

Yes

Travel cover option

No

Virtual GP

Yes

Hospital lists

Key, Trust, Extended, Signature, Speedy

Excesses

£0, £100, £200, £500, £1000, £3000, £5000

Vitality

Circa 11% market share 

Main offices – Bournemouth & Stockport

Target audiences for health insurance – Individual, Small-Medium Business, Corporate 

Previously known as PruHealth, Vitality entered the market in 2004 as a 50/50 joint venture between Prudential and South African insurer Discovery Group.   Their model is different to many and focuses heavily on making it cheaper and easier of people of lead a healthy lifestyle, and rewarding them for doing so.  In 2010, Discovery brought Prudential out of their share and acquired Standard Life Healthcare, whilst changing the business name from PruHealth to Vitality simultaneously. 

The remaining 7% market share is split between the following insurers

Cigna

Main offices – Greenock

Target audiences for health insurance – Small-Medium Business, Corporate 

Cigna is a US business with a global footprint of approximately 75 million customer relationships, following 200 years of trading.  They are an established name in the UK health insurance market and have broadened their services to include dental insurance.

Cover options for businesses

Plan name(s)

Health Flex – Level 1, Level 2, Level 3

In/day-patient treatment

Yes

Option to cover specialist fees in full

No

Out-patient options

£1,000, £2,000, full cover

Therapies/complementary treatment

Full cover

Psychiatric/mental health as an in-patient

Full cover

Cancer treatment

None, Full cover

Optional cash benefit options

No

Dental & Optical cover options

Optical as standard, Dental under separate plan

Travel cover option

No

Virtual GP

Yes

Employee Assistance Programme

No

Hospital lists

Cigna Network, Full Network

Excesses

£0, £100, £250, £500, £1,000

Freedom Health

Main offices – Bournemouth

Target audiences for health insurance – Individual, Small-Medium Business 

Founded in 2003, Freedom Health has established itself in the Private Medical Insurance market and has always strived to offer innovative products and excellent levels of customer service.  Their Essentials product provides a fixed cash amount for procedures, making it one of the more affordable products available.

Cover options for businesses

Plan name(s)

Elite 

In/day-patient treatment

Yes

Option to cover specialist fees in full

No

Out-patient options

£0, £1,500, Full cover

Therapies/complementary treatment

£0, £750, £1,500

Psychiatric/mental health as an in-patient

None, 45 days

Cancer treatment

Full cover

Optional cash benefit options

No

Dental & Optical cover options

Yes

Travel cover option

No

Virtual GP

No

Employee Assistance Programme

No

Hospital lists

National list, London Extension

Excesses

£100, £250, £500, £1,000

Cover options for individuals

Plan name(s)

Essentials, Elite

In/day-patient treatment

Yes

Option to cover specialist fees in full

No

Out-patient options

None, £500, £1500, Full cover

Therapies/complementary treatment

None, £750, £1500

Psychiatric/mental health as an in-patient

None, 45 days 

Cancer treatment

Yes

Optional cash benefit options

No

Dental & Optical cover options

Yes

Travel cover option

No

Virtual GP

No

Hospital lists

Standard, Plus

Excesses

£0, £100, £250, £500, £1000

Permanent Health Company (PHC)

Main offices – Rickmansworth

Target audiences for health insurance – Small-Medium Business, Corporate 

PHC have been a provider of specialist Private Medical Insurance plans for over 25 years.   Operating as an independent insurer for many years, in 2015 PHC were acquired by AXA, meaning they boast a greater degree of financial strength via their parent. Despite being underwritten by AXA PPP Healthcare, PHC still design and distributes its own products.

Cover options for businesses

Plan name(s)

HealthCover4Life – Plan 1, Plan 2, Plan 3, Plan 4

In/day-patient treatment

Yes

Option to cover specialist fees in full

Yes

Out-patient options

2 Consultations per year, Full cover

Therapies/complementary treatment

£500, £1,000, £1,500, full cover

Psychiatric/mental health as an in-patient

None, Full cover

Cancer treatment

None, Full cover

Optional cash benefit options

Yes

Dental & Optical cover options

No

Travel cover option

No

Virtual GP

Yes

Employee Assistance Programme

No

Hospital lists

National List, London Upgrade

Excesses

£0, £100, £200, £1,000

The Exeter

Main offices – Exeter

Target audience for health insurance – Individuals

Established in 1927, Exeter Friendly Society is one of Britain’s largest friendly societies with over 90,000 members.  Focused mainly in the individual/retail space and Private Medical Insurance, their range of services has expanded over the past few years to include Health Cash Plan,  Income Protection and Life cover.

Cover options for businesses

Plan name(s)

Health +

In/day-patient treatment

Yes

Option to cover specialist fees in full

No

Out-patient options

None, £500, £1000, Full cover

Therapies/complementary treatment

None, £500, £1000, Full cover

Psychiatric/mental health as an in-patient

None, 28 days

Cancer treatment

Yes

Optional cash benefit options

No

Dental & Optical cover options

No

Travel cover option

No

Virtual GP

Yes

Hospital lists

Essential, Standard, Extended

Excesses

£0, £100, £250, £500, £1000, £3000, £5000

WPA

Main offices – Taunton 

Target audience for health insurance – Individual, Small-Medium Business, Corporate

Founded in 1901, WPA (Western Provident Association) is a not-for-profit organisation and all gains are invested back into the business.  As well as Private Medical Insurance, WPA offers an NHS top-up product (similar to a health cash plan).  Whilst not a well-known name, WPA are well established in the UK market.

Cover options for businesses

Plan name(s)

Enterprise Flexible Benefits, Enterprise Health

In/day-patient treatment

Yes

Option to cover specialist fees in full

No

Out-patient options

£250, £500, £1,000, £1,200, £1,500, Full cover

Therapies/complementary treatment

£200, £400, £600, £1,200, £1,800, within out-patient limit

Psychiatric/mental health as an in-patient

None, 6 sessions, £750

Cancer treatment

None, Full cover (drugs only if not readily available on NHS)

Optional cash benefit options

Yes

Dental & Optical cover options

Yes

Travel cover option

No

Virtual GP

Yes

Employee Assistance Programme

Yes

Hospital lists

National List, Premium

Excesses

£0, £100, £150, £200, £250 (Shared responsibility also at £500, £750, £1000, £1,500, £3,000, £5,000, £6,000)

 

Cover options for individuals

Plan name(s)

Essentials, Premier, Elite

In/day-patient treatment

Yes

Option to cover specialist fees in full

No

Out-patient options

None, £1000, £1500

Therapies/complementary treatment

Within out-patient limit

Psychiatric/mental health as an in-patient

No

Cancer treatment

None, Full cover (subject to guidelines)

Optional cash benefit options

No

Dental & Optical cover options

Yes

Travel cover option

Yes

Virtual GP

Yes

Hospital lists

Standard, Premium

Excesses (shared responsibility) 

£250, £500, £750, £1000, £1500, £3000, £5000

National Friendly 

Main offices – Bristol

Target audience for health insurance – Individuals

National Friendly is the trading name of National Deposit Friendly Society, a British society providing numerous financial services. Formed in 1868 as the Surrey Deposit Friendly Society, they have broadened their horizons into Private Medical Insurance, Later Life Care, Savings, Investments and Life Assurance.

Cover options for businesses

Plan name(s)

Optimum

In/day-patient treatment

None, Yes (up to 1 million cover limit)

Option to cover specialist fees in full

No

Out-patient options

None, £2000, £5000

Therapies/complementary treatment

None, or within out-patient limit

Psychiatric/mental health as an in-patient

No

Cancer treatment

Yes (subject to guidelines)

Optional cash benefit options

No

Dental & Optical cover options

No

Travel cover option

No

Virtual GP

No

Hospital lists

Standard, Extended

Excesses

£0, £100, £250, £500, £1000

Engage Health Group has made every effort to ensure accuracy of this information, but inaccuracies could be present due to the velocity at which market dynamics and products change. 

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