The true cost of most common private health treatments

Tuesday 9 June 2015

• A quarter of over 50s say they would consider paying for treatment to avoid NHS queues* • Average cost for a knee replacement op stands at £11,000 • People typically underestimate the cost of treatment by up to 50%

The true cost of most common private health treatments

People over 50 are increasingly likely to opt to pay privately for operations when faced with lengthy NHS queues according to new research from Saga Health Insurance.  As Monitor, the health regulator, reports that waiting lists at key foundation NHS trusts have soared by more than 8% in the last year, one in four people over 50 say they would be likely to consider paying for operations such as joint replacements in order to get treated quicker.  However the cost of the operations will come as a shock to the majority, as they vastly underestimated the cost of treatment.

Some of the most common conditions the over 50s claim for are knee and hip replacements, cataracts, hernias and heart conditions.  On average people thought that a knee would cost £5,096 to replace, however in reality the operation costs over £11,000 for people who choose to self pay, so they underestimate by 54%. Typically people think a hip replacement would cost them £6899 but the actual cost of a self pay private hip replacement is around £10,000, leaving them underestimating by a third.  Cataract treatment was thought to cost £1,604 on average, but the real price tag is around £2,300 per eye, so people are again out by 32%. The only common treatment people appreciated the cost of was for a hernia on average the people surveyed said they thought the cost was £2,716 and the real cost is between £2,000- £3,000.

Roger Ramsden, CEO, Saga Services, commented: “Only time will tell whether the promised £8bn extra for the NHS appears and what difference it will make, but for many people on waiting lists, time is a commodity they value highly and so paying for themselves seems to them a practical route to take to get prompt and convenient treatment.

However our study shows that the cost of private health treatment is far in excess of what people expect it to cost, which will come as a huge shock for people if they do decide to look at paying for their own treatment rather than face an NHS queue.”

In order to cater for the changing needs of the over 50s, Saga developed a plan which caters to people with a lower budget and covers just these key treatments. Other plans on the market give people access to faster diagnosis of their condition, but then leave customers to use the NHS for treatment meaning they have to join the wait for treatment. The Saga Key Treatments plan, however also covers the cost of treatment, meaning over 50s can be treated and get back on their feet much faster.

These plans have been so popular amongst Saga customers that they have now been updated to offer unlimited cover for consultations and blood tests needed for diagnosis and also full cover for any physiotherapy needed after treatment to help with recovery.

Alongside this change, customers now have access to a GP helpline, meaning they can get medical advice from a qualified professional 24 hours a day, reducing the chances of them having to call 111 or going to A&E outside of surgery hours.


Notes to editors
*Populus interviewed 9,885 Saga customers, all aged 50+, online between 21 and
27 April 2015. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules; for more information see

About Saga Health Insurance
At Saga, we specialise in understanding the needs of people over 50 and we have been providing quality private health insurance for more than 25 years.

Our health insurance offers:
•     Comprehensive range of plans at competitive prices
•     Prompt access to private medical treatment
•     Access to a wide choice of UK private hospitals
•     No upper age limit and no medical required

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