Consumers vastly underestimate the cost of medical treatment, new research by Standard Life Healthcare has revealed.

Six out of ten people surveyed underestimated the cost of a heart operation, with just three in ten getting the cost of an MRI scan right.

Managing director Mike Hall said: "With more people choosing to self-fund treatment, there is a need for a mixture of self-pay, NHS treatment and private medical insurance (PMI)."

He said people realised the NHS could not provide free treatment for all conditions, but were unprepared for the cost of paying for their own treatments without PMI cover.

Hall added: "The survey showed that an excess option proved to be a popular method of keeping premiums affordable."