Why private health insurance is no longer just a luxury for the wealthy

Why private health insurance is no longer just a luxury for the wealthy

For families, this can be considerably more. Mr Cowan said this can “easily” reach £4,000 to £5,000 per year for a couple in their thirties or early forties living in London with young children.

Although prices have resisted a rise in line with inflation, the political environment has gradually become more hostile to health insurance. Insurance Premium Tax has steadily inflated premiums, starting at 2.5pc in 1994 and rising to 12pc by 2017.

While many companies provide health insurance, employees need to pay tax on premiums based on their income tax bracket. Over-60s were once able to claim tax relief, but this was abolished by the new Labour government in 1998.

According to healthcare expert David Hare, most people with coverage have it through a company plan. Those without insurance have to stick with the NHS, or find several thousand pounds for one-off procedures.

Data from the Private Healthcare Information Network over 11,000 people paid for cataract surgery themselves in the second quarter of 2022, costing around £2,000 to £4,000. Almost five thousand stumped up for a hip replacement, which can be worth up to £15,000.

The key piece of advice for health coverage is to shop around. As with many forms of insurance, customers can find themselves paying a loyalty penalty if they stick with one provider for an extended period.

You should also be aware that companies tend not to cover long-term health conditions: a common source of complaints to the Ombudsman. Some offer a moratorium, meaning you can be covered if you do not seek treatment, tests or medication over a set period, usually two years.

As for dental and optical add-ons, Mr Godden cautioned against them. “I typically don’t recommend it because – unless you’re using it every single year- often the cost outweighs what you’re actually likely to get from those benefits,” he said.

Weighing up the costs and benefits of private insurance is crucial: in the last year, 5pc of adults decided it was worth it. Many people will do whatever it takes to avoid becoming just another name on an NHS waiting list.