Lady having a health check

Health Insurance

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Health insurance is designed to cover the cost of medical expenses if the insured person falls ill or is injured. It can provide a way of avoiding waiting lists and can provide faster and more convenient consultations and treatments but the total sum that the policy will pay is usually limited, so bearing in mind the fact that some treatments can be astronimically expensive it should sometimes be relied on as in addition to NHS treatment, not instead of it.

UK Health Insurers

National Friendly Insurance Symbol

National friendly

National Friendly, otherwise known as National Deposit Friendly Society, was formed back in 1866, before the NHS and social security were dreamed of, to help people with their health and welfare. With about 60 employees it now focusses on health and life insurance, and later life care. As a friendly society it doesn't have shareholders expecting a profit on it's investments but it can work for the good of it's members. There are a range of options; from simple private GP appointments available 24/7 to investigations and treatments at a private hospital.

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BUPA Insurance Symbol


Bupa is a large international healthcare company, employing about 84,000 people in all, most of them in the UK. Health insurance is their main line of business, and they operate their own hospitals, clinics, dental practices and care homes. They provide health insurance for nearly 18 million people worldwide and whilst it is possible to use their services on a 'pay as you go' basis most of their patients in the UK do so as a benefit of an insurance plan, paid for either by themselves or an employer. They offer two levels of cover; Comprehensive which includes diagnosis and treatment, and Treatment and Care, in which diagnosis is done within the NHS. There are options over cancer treatment too, the costs of which can be very high. Costs of policies depend on age, health history and lifestyle choices.

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The Exeter Insurance Symbol

The Exeter

Exeter Friendly Society is one of the largest friendly societies in the UK with over 100 employees and about 90,000 members. Apart from health insurance they provide income protection and life cover, amongst other insurance products. A health insurance policy, like a car one, can attract no claims discounts and, again like car insurance, you can opt for an excess in which you pay the first contribution towards the cost of a claim. The higher the excess, the lower the premium. Apart from the usual benefits policyholders can use an online app with which they can get health advice or arrange treatment whenever they need it.

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Simply Health Insurance Symbol

Simply Health (AXA)

Simply Health has a long history. It began in 1872 as the Manchester and Salford Hospital Saturday Fund (MSHSF) then in 1999 they merged with Healthcare Insurance Alliance to form Healthsure Group Ltd (HSA). The Leeds Hospital Fund joined in 2002 followed by Bristol Contributory Welfare Association in 2005 and Totally Active in 2006. The name changed to Simplyhealth. In 2011 Denplan was aquired from AXA, then Groupama Healthcare, Nightingale Medical and Practice Plan For Vets came in. By 2015 Simplyhealth's private medical insurance was aquired by AXA and that is how things stand today. Their health plan has different levels of cover including 24 hour access to an online GP and mental health councelling.

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Vitality Insurance Symbol


Vitality has health insurance with a difference - you are encouraged to adapt to a healthy lifestle, and by sticking to it your premiums can reduce. You can get an activity tracker, such as an Apple Watch or Fitbit, link it to Vitality and the more healthy activities you indulge in, the more points you collect towards a lower premium. You also get discounted membership of qualifying gyms, and discounts off healthscreening. Smokers can save money on a stop smoking programme and discounts are available on selected holidays and health spas.

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