The cost of private operations

This article on private surgery costs is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.

There are many good reasons to go private. It saves potentially long delays on NHS waiting lists and can ensure a high standard of service during your treatment.

Common treatment costs

To give you an idea of the figures involved, here are some examples of the cost of private operations:

  • Cataract Removal - £2,000-£3,000
  • Heart Bypass - £10,000-£13,000

  • Hernia Treatment - £1,200-£1,700

  • Hip Replacement - £6,000-£9,000

  • Knee Replacement - £6,000-£9,600

  • Vasectomy - £250-£750

  • Hysterectomy - £3,000-£4,500

The next thing you need to know is how to fund the cost of private surgery. Fortunately, there are several options available to you, depending on your circumstances.

Private medical insurance

It is possible to side-step the full extent of the cost of private operations by taking out private medical insurance. Like any other insurance policy, you must pay small premiums on a regular basis to guarantee cover for possible medical treatment in the future.

Medical insurance companies offer a variety of schemes, with costs depending on your age and medical history. Here are some points worth considering:

  • Are you looking for an individual or group scheme? The latter is cheaper and offers better value.
  • Can you afford full cover for both out-patient consultations and in-patient expenses? Note that most private medicine is performed on an out-patient basis.
  • What banding (standard of accommodation) do you require? It can vary from private B and D rooms in NHS hospitals to luxury Band A rooms in private hospitals.

Types of insurance policies

Before taking out private medical insurance, it is important to consider the types of policies available:

  • Comprehensive or Full Cover Schemes – enable you to choose any hospital and covers all out-patient consultations and investigations, plus all in-patient treatments.
  • Limited Benefits or Budget Schemes – have certain criteria attached; they may only cover in-patient operation costs or only cover operations if the NHS waiting time exceeds 6 weeks.
  • Local Schemes – are promoted by the Police Force or Civil Service. They are fairly limited and have certain criteria attached. For instance, only so many out-patient consultations per year are covered, and in-patient treatment may be referred to a specialist hospital outside your area.
  • Hospital Cash Plans – allow the claimant to receive a fixed amount of money to offset the cost of private medicine.
  • Permanent Health Insurance and Income Protection Schemes – do not pay for private medicine but do provide cash benefits for certain illnesses or if you can no longer work.


Certain items – such as hearing aids and spectacles – are not covered by private health insurance. Out-patient prescriptions can be costly, and as a private patient you will not be eligible for an NHS prescription.

Private health insurance does not cover treatment of chronic, pre-existing, or psychiatric conditions, as well as long-term rehabilitation or health screening.

Self-funded private medicine

Of course, you do not have to take out private health insurance. The cost of doing so can vary between £117 - £206 per month for a family of four. Instead, you may opt to save money regularly through an ISA (a tax-free, high-interest savings account) and draw on the cash reserve when necessary.

Alternatively, specialist finance companies offer personal medical loans and finance schemes specifically for people who don’t have private medical insurance. These can be used to cover the cost of private operations, including cosmetic surgery.

Most private hospitals offer fixed price packages, whereby the cost of the operation is less than if you were an insured patient. Fixed packages cover the cost of private operations as well as a wide range of in-patient expenses, such as all medical and nursing care, private accommodation, drugs, dressings, and surgeon and anaesthetist fees.

Fixed price packages are important to look out for. Offered by a range of companies, such as Capio, BMI Healthcare, and BUPA Hospitals, they are applicable to most operations and patients, regardless of age.

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The cost of private operations