British Liver Trust
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Private Health Insurance

I have private health insurance, it's currently costing me £100/month and I can't really afford it. However I got it many many years ago through work, and all employees were given the opportunity to take it even with previous health conditions (I had cirrhosis at the time). So I've always been worried about giving it up because all my health conditions would be excluded if I wanted to take out a new policy.

Since then I have had a transplant and I only needed the health insurance to get a bed for my assessment at Kings, as the wards were full. All the other treatment I had was through the NHS. So I'm questioning if I still need it.

I don't really worry about non life threatening conditions, but it worries me that due to the side effects of the immuno suppressants, diseases like cancer and diabetes are more likely. Would health insurance benefit me with life saving treatments I can't get on the NHS? I'm really not interested in private rooms or any of those kind of benefits.

Your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

15 Replies

its the waiting times within the health service that can be a problem. and the strikes. i mean i know that they dont strike often but that one in england a few months ago was terrible. at least with private health your taken very quickly. i would keep it, as its peace of mind, and you cant really buy that.


Yes I agree, but from what I understand that's only true for non critical conditions. I genuinely don't mind a wait if it's not critical. But I don't want to die waiting and could have gone private. Or could have received some life saving treatment that's not available on the NHS. So I'm trying to weigh up the likelihood of these possibilities.


what seems to be non critical can turn into life threatening conditions and make the liver even worse as happened to me. i already had hep b 44 years ago and hep c for at least 25 years which i cleared with the ribavarin and interferon. gall stones are not considered critical nor life threatening and yet i nealy died. and i was in and out of hospital because i ended up getting taken in an ambulance. but the waiting time inbetween were nearly a between. as it ended up inside my bile duct and tore my bile duct to pieces and i had to have a 5 hour operation to reconstruct the bile duct. im still recovering. as well as the the infection it caused has atrophied 1/4 of my liver and my gallbladder which should have been the size of a pear shrunk to the size of a thimble and was stuck to my liver.from the day i went to the doctor with the first sign of pain it took me almost a year to finally get the 5 hour operation. because it kept getting infected and they cant operate like that i had an ERCP thats a procedure to remove the stones.that did not work and because of the ERCP i developed pancreatitis. i honestly say that i would not give up my insurance. it woud be the top of my list. i mean how old are you. you have to think about all of this as the older you get the more ill we are prone to get especially if we have health problems at the moment. getting seen quickly is the best way to survive problems i mean they tell you to go to the doctor if you have this or that problem as getting it attended to quickly can save your life. and the NHS is a mess as it is. dont just think about you liver. think about illness in general it can turn into a monster by the time you get seen by the NHS. look at all the poor people on this forum waiting to be seen by pain clinics and get pain relief. thats the same NHS your putting your life into.


I'd keep it, you can't put a cost on your health. I got cataracts through the meds I was taking but they wouldn't correct them on the NHS. Luckily my insurance paid for it and the surgeon I saw wouldn't let me drive while I waited for the op as they were so bad. If I hadn't had the insurance I would have carried on driving until the NHS did them, I could have unknowingly been a danger to other drivers. It scared me that I could have killed somebody!

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I think the decision can only be yours, given financial resources and the possible benefits. Among the challenges of private medical insurance is the amount of effort that providers put into avoiding paying for treatment, which can be as high as $735,000 for a liver transplant.

Bear in mind that NHS is a service for all at the point of need. While it is true that things can go wrong, I can't agree with Grace that "the NHS is a mess". It is a brilliant service that has saved the lives of many people on this site and in ways that would never be affordable, private insurance or not.



Thanks Mike, I agree with you about the NHS. In fact that's probably why I'm questioning needing the insurance. Although I have private my transplant was done on the NHS, in fact I don't think I was ever told it could be done privately.

I did use my private health for my transplant assessment as I became ill very quickly and it was a way to jump the queue as the NHS ward was full. That possibly saved my life because I was able to get my transplant a month later. I use axa ppp and they paid up and agreed to treatments with minimal fuss. I was surprised how little info I had to give them, so perhaps the dialog was between the hospital and them. For those interested the total cost of the assessment was £7000.

Yes a lot to think about, and I'm not going to stop the insurance without considerable thought.



Hi there!

Well, if you can't afford it? Then...

I'm an American who lives here now. I had insurance. But my illness practically bankrupted me with things it did not or would not pay for.

The NHS saved my life. The health care I get here is superb. I've never had to wait..for anything. I can get a same day appointment, or my doctor, GP has come to my home to see me..same day. The nurses come every week to change my pic line dressing. I was able to get one of those special beds for people who sleep a lot? With the air moving in it?

You can get the prescription card, for meds. I pay mine every three months and it 29£. But you can get it cheaper if you pay by the year.

I've heard the same doctors who work for NHS, some of them do private insurance also.

And this I heard a couple of years ago,an American had private insurance here, he was not living here full time. But he got cancer. The insurance could only take him so far, then he HAD to go through NHS to get the treatments he needed in order to survive.

I don't know, I get better care here than in the US. I'm so grateful !

I know there are some private wards at my hospital also, but again, I've only had to wait a couple of days to get a bed on the ward. But that's for a proceedure, non emergency. If my counts are really bad, like they were one time right after transplant, they got me in the same afternoon.

Sorry, I'm not sure what the benefits are to private insurance?

To me, the NHS IS like having good insurance! 😊

But good luck in making your choice. If the money is becoming a hardship..I think, in my humble opinion, that you would be ok with just NHS. I have been thus far!

Cheering you on!




I would not go without private health insurance

You have been very lucky so far on the nhs but thats not universal

Far far too often people are waiting minths for treatment or even to see a consultant

Especially in orthopeadics and neurology is a nightmare

8 months to get any form of neurology treatment at Kings that i can tell youfrom my grandaughters experience despite just how ill she is


I met a couple private med is £25k a year. He has just stopped paying in Feb now he is ill. He automatically went for an appt at private hospital. 700 for X-ray worried about cost of Mri. When acute you have to go to nhs and he will have to. It is a choice but if you really really need it , it's the NHS. (I did say £25K that is two peoples salaries.)

If you can afford and it gives you peace of mind but there is no emergency treatment in private medicine in the UK.

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I'm curious how you're all managing to get insurance to cover you - I would love tips on how to do the same! I was on insurance as a dependent when I was younger but then became too old and now would need my own. The problem is that I was diagnosed on the previous insurance my parents had and now my several chronic conditions and any condition considered related is not covered. That means pretty much all possible illnesses are not viable for insurance coverage in my case. So do you use specific providers that have waived your condition or were you lucky enough to be on insurance before you got sick?


I was lucky and started a job back in 2000 that offered all employees medical insurance even with previous conditions. That's why I've stuck with it ever since.

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Thanks for all your replies. But you've been of no help whatsoever ;)

I'm still so undecided, as both arguments for (quicker treatment, and possible treatments not available on the NHS), and against (the NHS do a great job, and critical illness is referred to the NHS anyway).

I won't be making a quick decision on this as once I leave my private insurance I'll never get one again as it won't cover anything I'm likely to need it for. So for the moment I'll be leaving it. Perhaps what I really need to do is earn more money!

But thank you all for your input.


As an ex health care professional, the private sector will refer to the NHS for emergency and life threatening conditions. Unlike the US, UK private care only goes so far. I would also add that as soon as my husband was diagnosed with cirrhosis (11 years ago admittedly), BUPA declined to pay for anything to do with his liver so he cancelled at that point and he was paying a lot more than £100 a month! Like you, he's started the insurance throught a job and continued paying it himself. I would check out what your insurance will cover, diabetes for instance can be related to liver disease so if they won't cover the liver, may not cover that.


My insurance have been covering the Liver. I had my transplant assessment privately (because the NHS ward was full), and started having consultations privately which I soon figured out was the same as NHS (only with coffee/tea and biscuits), but yes it was covered by the insurance.


Would def keep it going if you can as to change to another company would be a nightmare with so many exemptions


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