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Going private if you don’t have health insurance

Guide to going private - mother and child

You can get private hospital treatment without private health insurance, as a ‘self paying’ patient, which means paying for the treatment yourself with credit card, cash or cheque, usually on or before admission to the hospital.  ‘Self paying’ is also an option if it is not possible to get health insurance cover for a pre-existing condition, but be aware that it could become quite expensive if your problem isn't straightforward and you need to see several different specialists before the problem is resolved.  


Before deciding to go privately and pay for your operation it can be useful just to check out the NHS waiting times, it may be less time than you thought.


You may want to research the fixed price surgery deals available from your local private hospitals. To locate private hospitals near to you, use our Find a hospital page. The local hospital may also offer payment schemes to enable you to spread the cost of treatment.


The usual process for private treatment without health insurance is as follows: 

  • Go to your GP. He or she may recommend a specialist and will write a private patient referral letter (sometimes the GP will charge for this). However, you can do some research on the specialist whom you want to treat you, and can ask your GP to refer you to a specific consultant. You can search our database of over 2,500 UK private consultants.

  • You attend an out-patient appointment with the consultant where relevant tests are carried out (or booked for a later date) and either an outpatient/inpatient treatment is booked (or no further treatment is necessary). The consultation will typically cost between £100-200 and is normally paid on the day, or settled soon afterwards if no further treatment is needed. 
  • The consultant will write to your GP to update him/her. 
  • If you need inpatient treatment, you can ask the private hospital to give you a fixed price for surgery. This will include the doctors fees and the hospitals costs for the operation. Take a look at some typical costs for private treatment.
  • At this stage, you can decide not to go ahead but if you are happy with the price, the admission date is booked and you will pay all or part of the cost before admission to hospital.
  • After hospital treatment, the hospital/consultant sends an update to the GP and you will attend a follow up appointment with the consultant.


What are fixed price surgery schemes?

Many companies (including Capio, BMI Healthcare and Spire Healthcare) operate a ‘fixed price surgery scheme’ for patients which applies to most private operations, and is usually available to most people, at any age.  The patient pays a fixed price for the procedure which normally includes all medical and nursing care at hospital, the costs of private accommodation, operating theatre fees, necessary drugs and dressings while in hospital, as well as the surgeons' and anesthetists' fees for the operation (provided the consultant participates in the scheme).  


BMI Healthcare's “Option” packages provide an easy route to affordable fixed price surgery. Nuffield Hospitals offer Fixed Price Direct where patients pay up front for treatment after agreeing a set price which stays the same regardless of what is involved in treating the patient.  Spire Healthcare's ‘One-off’ private treatment includes the operation/procedure, consultants' fees, nursing care, accommodation, physiotherapy and medication, after-care, a follow-up appointment and further treatment that may arise if there are complications, but excludes consultations and tests done beforehand. Capio offer Fixed Cost Care for Self Pay Patients, designed for people who do not have private medical insurance.


Can I get finance or a loan for surgery?

Yes, specialist finance companies offer competitive personal medical loans and finance schemes specifically for people who don’t have private health insurance and who want to fund their private health treatment or cosmetic surgery procedure(s).  See our Finance Scheme section for more information.


Where can I get a quote for surgery?

As a self paying patient, you need to locate and contact local hospitals for a quote, and agree a price for treatment.  Take a look at some of the providers listed on the Private Health website.  If you would like a quote for a fixed-price operation from up to three providers in your area, complete our surgery enquiry form - you will receive a response within 48 hours. 

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We will forward your request for further information, a quotation or an indicative cost for private hospital treatment to three providers of private healthcare services in your local area.

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