Health Insurance in the United Kingdom | England - Scotland - Wales - Northern Ireland

Whatever your situation and the reason for your stay in the UK: a new secondment, a new professional opportunity, an internship, a university exchange or simply a vacation, it's important to think about insurance. What do you need to know about the UK healthcare system?

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Being covered by international health insurance means you can stay in the UK with complete peace of mind. Whether you plan to live in the UK for an extended period as an expatriate, are an international student, or simply an occasional traveler, you can benefit from coverage tailored to your situation. Health cover will help you meet medical and hospital costs, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.

Student insurance United Kingdom

The insurance that covers your stay for your studies in the UK.



/ month

Expatriate insurance United Kingdom

Health insurance to cover your expatriation to the UK.



/ month

Travel insurance United Kingdom

Health insurance to cover your trip to the UK.



/ trip

Any questions? Need advice?

Information on health insurance in the UK

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Political system: Constitutional Monarchy
Capital: London
Surface area: 244,820 km²
Population: 60.6 million
Languages spoken : English
Currency: Pound sterling

The UK healthcare system

With almost 5% of its working population employed in healthcare, and ranked among the top 10 healthcare systems in the world, the UK healthcare system is efficient but complex. On the one hand, there is a non-compulsoryNational Health Service (NHS) to which any legal resident in the country can join. This universal coverage is generally free of charge, and is mainly financed by taxes. On the other hand, health services are decentralized from England, meaning that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are free to organize their health services as they see fit. The UK boasts some excellent public health establishments, such as Guy’s hospital in London and the Lothian hospital in Scotland.

How does the UK healthcare system work?

As an expatriate, you can benefit from the NHS if you are employed in the UK. All you have to do is register. Universal NHS cover is the public health insurance that enables the majority of the population to protect themselves against a proportion of medical costs. It is tax-funded and available to all legal residents of the UK who use the public services of the National Health Service and covers part of the cost of :

  • Consultation with a general practitioner or specialist;
  • Hospitalization and rehabilitation ;
  • Dental care;
  • Eye care ;
  • Glasses and contact lenses;
  • Prescription drugs ;
  • Ambulance costs;
  • Preventive care ;
  • Long-term care.

Despite very good management of vital emergencies, most British people face problems accessing other care. Refund requests are processed very slowly. What’s more, there are numerous terms and conditions and clauses to be taken into account in order to be covered by the NHS. This is why some people in the UK have private health insurance to complement the NHS.

How do I consult a GP or specialist in the UK?

In the UK, you will be affiliated to an NHS-approved GP close to where you live. In the UK, GPs perform three functions:

  • They are the first line you should consult in case of medical need;
  • They must provide continuous access to care;
  • They are the only ones who can refer you to specialist doctors on prescription.

You’ll find general practitioners in practices that bring together the medical professions of doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, ophthalmologists… The cost of a consultation with a private GP is between £80 and £110. for a 15-minute consultation and can go up to £440 for a 1-hour consultation.

In most cases, you can only consult a specialist if your GP has prescribed it. The cost of a standard consultation with a specialist doctor will be between £100 and £250.

Some examples of average consultation costs in the UK:

  • Functional medicine consultation: £500-£750 ;
  • Acupuncture (30 minutes): £200 ;
  • Physiotherapist (60 minutes): £100 ;
  • Psychotherapist (60 minutes): £190 ;

How do I see a dentist in the UK?

You can make an appointment with an NHS-registered dentist, which means you’ll benefit from cheaper treatment than at a private dentist. However, you’ll face extremely long waiting times of up to several years before you get a consultation. If you visit an NHS doctor to have stitches removed, if your mouth is bleeding or if your dentures need repairing, you will not be charged for the treatment. For other dental operations, here are some examples of the prices you will have to pay:

  • Emergency dental treatment: £24
  • Classic diagnostic examination with X-ray: £24
  • Tooth filling, root canal treatment or extraction: £27
  • Crowns, dentures, dental bridges and other laboratory procedures: £282

Dental treatment by an NHS dentist is completely free only if:

  • Children under 18
  • Women who are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous year
  • Be treated in an NHS-approved hospital and have your treatment carried out by the hospital dentist (however, dentures or dental bridges will be at your expense)
  • You receive low-income benefits.

Not all cosmetic dental treatments are included in the NHS.

Why is going to a private dental practice cheaper than going to a public one?

Private dental practices have real advantages over NHS-registered dental practices. In fact, consulting a private dentist includes virtually non-existent waiting times for appointments, and far more developed medical structures, resulting in a much higher quality of dental care. But also the possibility of last-minute appointments, a wider choice of dental treatments and dentists recognized for their expertise and the quality of their treatments.

In the public sector, patients have experienced waiting times of over 2 years for a consultation with an NHS dentist, as access to care is open to a large majority of the population compared with public prices.

The UK emergency system

In the UK, the emergency number is 999. You can also call 112, Europe’s emergency number. The NHS contact number is 111, where you will be picked up by an ambulance and admitted to an NHS emergency department. You will be connected to a service that will ask you what type of emergency you are experiencing and which service (police, fire, ambulance) you wish to contact.

Hospitals in the UK

There are three main types of hospital in the UK:

  • General hospitals: among the general hospitals, you can visit NHS-approved general hospitals, in other words public hospitals. In these hospitals you will receive free treatment. However, some NHS hospitals also offer private care, with access to better infrastructure within the hospital in order to finance themselves. Alternatively, you can visit independent hospitals run by private companies or charities offering better-quality care, but with fees that patients have to pay. These hospitals have emergency, maternity, surgical and elderly care services.
  • Specialized hospitals: these are smaller facilities offering specialized care in a particular area of health, such as pediatrics, psychiatry or orthopedics.
  • Tertiary care hospitals: these offer more specialized and more expensive care than general hospitals. They are generally located in major cities, not far from medical schools and university hospitals. These hospitals generally treat patients with rarer diseases.

Free services in NHS hospitals include medical treatment for emergencies, infectious diseases, family planning and physical and mental disorders.

To undergo hospitalization, you will need a prescription from your attending physician indicating the need for hospitalization.

Pharmacies in the UK

If you are admitted to an NHS-approved hospital, the medicines you need will be free even if you are not insured. However, you will have to pay a deductible when you pick up these drugs. This deductible does not apply to all drugs; certain categories are exempt, such as contraceptives, anti-cancer drugs and drugs to combat sexually transmitted diseases.

Examples of average costs for medical operations in private hospitals in the UK

  • Removal of wisdom teeth: £1400 – £2200
  • Hip replacement: £8200 – £12700
  • Knee replacement: £8500 – £13500
  • Appendicitis operation: £3500
  • Maternity with vaginal delivery: £5000
  • Maternity with Caesarean delivery: £6000

What vaccinations should I have before moving to the UK?

The vaccinations you’ll need to have before you expatriate to the UK are the standard ones, to ensure your immunization record is complete and up to date. Reminder of required vaccines :

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, poliomyelitis, influenzae b
  • Hepatitis B (mandatory)
  • Pneumococcus (mandatory)
  • Meningococcus
  • Measles, mumps, rubella
  • Papillomavirus
  • Flu
  • Zona

Some vaccines should be given in several doses, and administered to children from an early age. The cost of a hepatitis B vaccine is £45, while the average cost of a diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine in a private hospital is £35.

Maternity in the UK

Do you have questions about maternity in the UK? What is the Birth Plan? Read our article on maternity in the UK.

The average cost of a vaginal delivery in the UK is £5000, and a caesarean delivery is £6000. The price of a blood test is around £50 and the price of a pregnancy ultrasound is around £350. It’s essential to be insured if you want to give birth in a private hospital, as the care you receive is much more qualified and less stressful.

Is it necessary to take out private international health insurance in the UK?

As an expat in the UK since Brexit, you’ll be able to benefit from the NHS system, which will give you access to free care in the public sector. However, there are many disadvantages to this system, including the need to take out additional insurance and the cost (around £1,000 per year). The healthcare available on the NHS is very limited, in terms of quality and choice of practitioner, and the main shortcoming of this system is the waiting time for a consultation. Patients have already had to wait two years for a consultation with an NHS dentist.

Private care is more expensive but much more accessible, and you’ll benefit from last-minute appointments with a wide choice of some of the UK’s most experienced practitioners. What’s more, the quality of care is much better, as private clinics and hospitals benefit from better medical technology and treat more illnesses and infections than public hospitals. Emergency departments in private hospitals are accessible much more quickly than those in public hospitals, where the doctors working there are overwhelmed by the number of patients. We recommend that you take out private health insurance that covers you for private-sector healthcare costs, so that you can access healthcare as quickly and cheaply as possible.

What’s more, the NHS only covers you within the UK, which means that if you wish to return to your home country or travel abroad, you will no longer be covered at all, and will have to take out additional private insurance.

Which health insurance is right for the UK and for whom?

Whatever your profile, our health insurance plans will suit your plans to expatriate or stay in the UK.

  • If you’re an expatriate employee or contractor heading for the UK, we strongly recommend that you take out private international expatriation insurance, which will cover you better than local insurance in view of your status. With a private international health insurance policy, you’ll benefit from coverage in the UK’s private health sector, as well as international health cover and medical repatriation cover if necessary to another country or your home country.
  • Depending on the plan you choose, our private insurances will cover 100% of your hospitalization costs and up to 90% of your medical expenses. It is imperative that you are covered for outpatient treatment, as NHS-registered doctors only work on weekdays. If you want to see a doctor at the weekend or on a weekday evening, you’ll have to go to a private doctor. The cost of a GP consultation is extremely high – you could be charged up to £100 for a 15-minute consultation – so private health insurance is a must if you want to treat yourself without breaking the bank.
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