As a self-employed professional living in the UK, finding the right health insurance plan is a crucial aspect of maintaining your wellbeing and financial stability.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the best and most trustworthy healthcare plans for the self-employed, and guide you through the process of selecting the right healthcare plan for you.
Why should you consider purchasing health insurance?
While the NHS provides comprehensive healthcare coverage for everyone living and working in the UK, many self-employed people still seek private health insurance for various reasons, including quicker access to specialist care, elective treatments and other additional healthcare benefits.
It’s no secret that the NHS is under pressure in the UK at the moment, and NHS waiting times - particularly for non-urgent and non-life-threatening treatment - can be long. In 2023, they are unfortunately at an all-time high.
As a self-employed worker, you won’t receive sick pay in the same way that PAYE employees do, so it’s important you make sure you have a healthcare plan in place that can get you better and back to work as quickly as possible.
Plus, health insurance isn’t as expensive as you might think, with many basic UK health insurance plans being surprisingly affordable.
Understanding what you need from your health insurance
Before diving into the different health insurance options, it's crucial to assess your specific needs within the context of the UK healthcare system. Your age, health status, family situation and budget will all play a huge role in determining the most suitable plan for you.
Here are some factors to consider:
- Your health status: If you have pre-existing medical conditions or need quicker access to medical care, you may want a private health insurance plan that covers these needs.
- Your budget: Work out how much you can afford to pay in premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, keeping in mind that private health insurance is often used as a supplement to NHS services.
- Family situation: If you have a family, you'll need to consider their healthcare needs as well, which may include options for family coverage.
- Prescription medications: If you take any regular medications, you’ll want to ensure they are covered by your private health insurance plan.
The best health insurance options for self-employed professionals in the UK
In the UK, the four best-known healthcare providers for self-employed workers are:
- Bupa: Bupa is one of the best-known and most widely trusted healthcare providers in the UK. Their best policy for self-employed individuals is called ‘Bupa By You Comprehensive’, which will give you an excellent level of cover, including hospital treatment, mental health cover, a choice over your level of cancer insurance, and more.
- AXA Health: Axa’s ‘Personal Health’ plan is a fantastic choice for self-employed workers, giving you access to outpatient treatments, cancer treatment and aftercare and hospital treatments.
- Aviva: Another health insurance provider you can trust to keep you in safe hands is Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer. Their comprehensive ‘Healthier Solutions’ plan, designed for self-employed people, will provide you with inpatient and day-patient hospital treatment, cancer treatment, physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic treatment, and more.
- Vitality: Last but not least, Vitality’s ‘Personal Healthcare’ policy is a great choice for self-employed workers as it also provides private hospital stays, weight loss surgery, mental health and menopause support, discounts and rewards for healthy living, and more.
All of these UK private health insurance plans offer important basic benefits, such as access to hospital treatments, and specific private hospitals, clinics or specialists. As leading health insurance providers, these reputable companies will all allow you to tailor your plan to suit your needs. You can add and even remove specific parts of a policy that don't fit your lifestyle, reducing the overall cost of your health insurance.
Just be aware that some things will be excluded from most of these plans, including:
- A&E treatment
- Injuries from some high-risk sports and activities
- Organ transplants
- Routine pregnancy checkups
- Treatment for HIV & AIDS
We recommend thoroughly researching the above providers - and their special self-employed offerings mentioned above - to find the one that best aligns with your healthcare needs and preferences.
How much does private health insurance cost?
The cost of your private health insurance will vary hugely depending on which plan you choose, where you live (as in major cities like London, treatment will be more expensive), your age and health status, whether you have an excess on your policy and whether you choose any add-ons.
For advice on how much you can afford to spend on health insurance, and to get the best deal possible on the best plan for you, we recommend speaking to a professional accountant, who can help you manage your healthcare costs effectively.
What are the tax implications of private health insurance?
Private health insurance premiums may have tax implications in the UK, depending on your specific circumstances. You should always consult with a tax advisor to understand how these premiums affect your tax liability.
Tips for finding the best health insurance for you
Now that you’re aware of some of the best plans out there for self-employed workers in the UK, here are some tips for choosing the best private health insurance for you:
1. Compare multiple plans
Don't rush the decision-making process. Compare different private health insurance plans, their coverage, premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs to find the one that best aligns with your needs.
2. Understand deductibles and premiums
Balance your monthly premium with your deductible. Lower premiums often come with higher deductibles and vice versa. Choose a plan that suits your budget and healthcare needs.
3. Evaluate coverage
Review the specific coverage offered by each private health insurance plan. Consider whether it covers the medical services and treatments you are likely to need, including prescription drugs, mental health coverage and specialist consultations.
4. Check for any additional benefits
Explore any additional benefits offered by UK-specific private health insurance plans, such as wellness programs, discounts or mental health services.
5. Research customer satisfaction
Read reviews and assess customer satisfaction ratings for private health insurance providers in the UK. Choose a reputable provider known for excellent customer service. The four we touched on earlier are all trustworthy providers with overwhelmingly positive Trustpilot reviews.
6. Speak to a health insurance broker
Health insurance can be a complicated and highly personal product, so we would always advise seeking expert advice from a health insurance broker, who are objective advisers that generally don’t charge for their services.
Consider taking out income protection assurance
Even with a great health insurance plan to protect you, none of us are immune to illnesses or accidents that take a long time to recover from.
As a self-employed professional, it’s a good idea to look into income protection assurance, which will ensure you can still earn money while you focus on what really matters - getting back to good health. You can consider income protection assurance your version of the PAYE employee’s sick pay.
We recommend speaking to a professional accountant if you need more advice on how to take out income protection assurance.
Choosing the right health insurance for you and your family is critical. It means thinking carefully about what cover you need, what you can afford and what suits your situation best.
Although it might initially seem complicated, researching and comparing various options will help you find the plan that gives you the coverage you need at a cost you can afford. Don't forget to consider income protection insurance to stay protected in any unexpected situations.
In every sense, your health is your wealth, and having the right health insurance in place can give you peace of mind and financial stability in every situation.