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Health Insurance in the UK

Learn about how health insurance works in the UK

When it was established in 1948 the National Health Service (NHS) nevertheless permitted allowed the private insurance market that existed to that time to continue. Though all UK citizens and permanent residents are entitled to receive benefits from the NHS – and despite the fact that the public system far and away dominates the market for health insurance in the UK - some six decades the right to buy private insurance is exercised by approximately 10% of the populace every year. In a country where all permanent residents of the are entitled to health care that is free at the point of use and paid for from general taxation what justifies the enduring popularity of private health insurance in the UK in the 21st century?

Part of the answer lies in the fact that private insurance continues to offer its clients something that the tax-funded NHS system cannot: choice. After all, private health insurance in the UK – at least in theory - allows individuals to obtain treatments that the NHS does not to cover, such as alternative medications and therapies or elective surgery. This practice is relatively rare, however; far more common is the use of private insurance to purchase services that are freely available in the NHS but otherwise difficult to obtain in a timely fashion. The reason for this is red tape. Under the NHS, the general practitioner (GP) is the conduit through which all non-emergency health services flow. While the NHS allows its beneficiaries to consult with their GP for free, only those treatments or visits to specialists that are recommended or "referred" by the GP are covered by the system. Access to advanced care is therefore only at the GPs discretion, making a consultation with a specialist sometimes difficult to obtain. Private medical insurance, though pricey, allows patients to see specialists directly and more expediently.

The market-driven emphasis on customer care, then, goes a long way towards explaining why private medical insurance still has a place in the UK. Evidence to this effect is borne out by the fact that only one-third of those with private insurance purchase it with their own money; the rest receive it as a benefit of employment. In fact, many large corporations that operate in the UK provide such insurance to their employees. In this way private insurance can be seen as a perk that allows policy holders to choose their physician and their manner of treatment – in effect allowing them to take charge of their health care in a way the national system does not permit.

Of course, all of this omits one crucial component: not all residents of the UK are can participate in the NHS. For example, student visitor visa holder – the kind granted to adults pursuing a short course of study in the UK such as an ESL immersion course and are not eligible to receive benefits from the NHS. As such, international students who plan to study in the UK for less than 6 months (11 months in the case of a English-language course), are advised to purchase their own private medical health insurance in the UK. Students who do so may well receive care in the same hospitals at NHS patients but should expect to pay for the services they receive out of pocket or with the express consent of their insurance carrier. Conditions and terms vary so, if you use (or plan to use) private medical insurance in the UK make sure you do your homework. Because the market for this kind of private health insurance in the UK is small, policy holders must be their own best advocates.

We offer the following plans to students who are planning to travel, study or visit the UK:

Europe Travel Atlas Travel Student Secure
Policy MaximumPolicy Max. €40,000 to €6 Million $50,000 to $2 Million $200,000 to $5,000,000 max$200k to $5M max
DeductibleDed. €0 up to €2,000 $0 up to $5,000 $25 up to $100
Currency € Euro priced $ USD priced $ USD priced
Premium Starting at €0.54/ day Starting at $0.85/ day Starting at $0.85/ day

Best Insurance Plans for the UK

We have a range of insurance plans, however for students studying in the UK the best insurance options are: