NHS vs Private Health Care Statistics

Len Burgess[1]

Len Burgess

Money Savings Advice NHS vs Private Healthcare

When looking to compare and contrast NHS and private healthcare, it is very useful to have statistics. We have put together an array of NHS and private healthcare facts and figures which should give you an idea of the market and how dominant the NHS still is in the UK.

There may also be some surprises as many people fail to understand the depth and cover private healthcare insurance provides.

We have seen numerous surveys over the years comparing and contrasting NHS and private healthcare services. There is no doubt that the demand for private healthcare has increased dramatically in recent years.

As NHS waiting times for various treatments continue to grow, it looks as though this trend will continue for some time to come.

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What Is the NHS Annual Budget?

The UK government published a survey looking at 2017 healthcare expenditure in the UK. Between NHS, local authorities and providers of public healthcare the budget totalled a staggering £155.6 billion. To put this into perspective, this equates to 79% of total UK health care expenditure in 2017.

How Much Is Spent on Private (Voluntary) Health Insurance?

While the figure for voluntary health insurance covers a range of medical care, including dental cover, expenditure in 2017 totalled £6.1 billion. Some later statistics show that spending on health insurance has increased by 86% between 2008 and 2019. Whether this rate of increase will continue remains to be seen, but it perfectly illustrates the growing importance of the health insurance market.

What Do Employees Think of Employer Private Health Insurance?

There has been much research into employer private health insurance and one which has cast a very interesting light is what employees think employee private health insurance has achieved.

Of those surveyed 69% said they showed their employer was caring, 63% said it had improved the health and welfare of staff, 55% saw it as a duty of care, and 49% believed it was a means of getting employees back to work as soon as possible.

However, the fact that 69% of those surveyed said that an employer private health insurance scheme cast their employer in a very good light seems to make the investment worthwhile?

What Are Average UK Private Health Insurance Premiums?

The average premium for UK private health insurance was £1435 per annum in 2019. In reality, premiums will depend upon the individual’s personal circumstances. Some experts believe that the average is nearer £1000 per annum while others believe it may be slightly higher than £1435 per annum. The key to getting the best value from private health insurance is to shop around and get multiple quotes.

How Many People Had Private Health Insurance in 2019?

Even though the UK private health insurance sector has grown significantly in recent years, only 13% of UK consumers had private medical insurance back in 2019. Interestingly, a staggering 53% of those who answered the finder.com survey said they were happy to pay for private healthcare treatment.

This would suggest that the potential private health insurance sector could be a staggering four times the current size!

How Popular Is Private Health Insurance?

A recent survey suggested that private health insurance was the fifth most popular type of insurance behind car insurance, home insurance, contents insurance and life insurance. Many experts believe this figure will increase significantly with huge numbers of people, seemingly intent on acquiring private health insurance in the future.

What Is the Split Between Online and Off-Line Health Insurance Policies?

There’s no doubt that the Internet has made a huge difference to the way in which we purchase goods and services. However, when we look at health insurance policies, it appears that consumers still need good old-fashioned advice. In 2018 there were 808,000 health insurance policies secured off-line with 241,000 purchased online.

Estimates suggest that the split will change slightly with 804,000 policies off-line and 250,000 policies online by 2024.

How Do Employers View Employee Health Insurance Schemes?

A recent survey by the employee benefits website has shown the two main reasons behind employer-funded health insurance schemes. Interestingly, 91% of employers said they would like their healthcare provider to improve the mental health of their employees.

They also saw 84% seeking an improvement in their employee’s physical health, with 70% expecting meaningful content to be provided to employees to assist with their long-term well-being.

What Is the Difference in Waiting Times Between NHS and Private Healthcare?

On average, you should be seen within seven days if referred by your GP to a private healthcare provider. The figure for the NHS is up to a maximum of 18 weeks - the target figure. Recent figures for the NHS in 2018/19 show that 86.7% had been waiting for 18 weeks or less.

In many ways, this perfectly illustrates the value of private healthcare which allows you to circumnavigate what can be long NHS waiting lists.

What Is the Cost of Cover Compared to a Common Knee Replacement?

We are talking between £1000 and £1500 in annual premiums for private healthcare insurance against the cost (national average) of a knee replacement of around £10,000. So, if you decided on a “pay-as-you-go” option for your private health insurance, then you would expect to pay £10,000 for this type of operation.

While the NHS provides this service free of charge, it is impossible to say with any great certainty how long you would be expected to wait.

NHS or Private Healthcare, Which Has the Greatest Range of Treatment?

You will find that private healthcare insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions or chronic illnesses. When it comes to accident and emergency departments, there are very few, if any, private hospitals offering such a service.

The NHS has by far and away from the broadest range of treatments available but due to budget restrictions may not have access to the latest treatment, drugs and equipment.


We hope that these statistics give you an idea of the difference between NHS and private healthcare services. It is also very important to see the two services as complimentary as opposed to in competition because it is possible to have both NHS and private healthcare treatment for one medical condition.

How Can Money Savings Advice Help You With Private Medical Insurance?

Here at Money Savings Advice, we have partnered with some of the UK’s leading Private Medical Insurance companies. They have already helped thousands of people get the best PMI cover, and, they can do the same for you.

Choosing an independent adviser means they won’t recommend a policy unless they are sure it is in your best interests. Their advice is also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.

If you would like to speak to one of these brokers, then click on the below and answer the very simple questions.

Money Savings Advice Author Len Burgess

Len Burgess

Len Burgess is a professional financial writer who over the last five years has written hundreds of articles for all financial sectors. Len founded Money Savings Advice with the aim of helping consumers navigate their way around the financial world by providing easy to understand financial information and matching consumers with the best financial advisor based on their personal information.

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