There is no doubt that the National Health Service (NHS) has served the nation well since its inception. However, the health care system as it currently operates, has been under great stain and this has significantly affected the way the NHS delivers services. As waiting lists continue to get longer, more and more people are turning to private health insurance as a safety mechanism.
According to healthcare consultancy LaingBuisson, demand for private medical insurance cover in Britain rose by 21% in 2015 with over 4 million people insured. While some critics attribute the increase in private medical cover to company schemes,where the number of employees with medical insurance rose by 76.3%, it can be argued that most individuals now have greater expectations of healthcare and are increasingly taking up private health insurance.
An increase in medical negligence cases because of an ailing health care system has led to many people taking precautionary measures to safeguard their health. According to the NHS Litigation Authority which handles claims on behalf of trusts, more than £1.4bn was paid out in medical negligence claims last year compared to £583m in 2008. Some Personal Injury lawyers have expressed how these figures are not surprising in light of the publicity regarding avoidable harm that patients suffer.
Private health care policies though arguably expensive, enable quick access to diagnosis and eligible treatment thus allowing individuals to take control of their health. With 1 in 3 people likely to develop cancer at some point in their life, it is easy to see why a significant number of people are not leaving things to chance, particularly at a time when certain treatment is restricted. The cost of life saving drugs, some of which can cost up to £90,000 and may not be funded by the NHS, have led to insurers coming up with a wide range of products that attract consumers and give them some peace of mind.
While hard-pressed families face tough choices when deciding whether to take up a policy on healthcare insurance because of affordability, very few who can reasonable afford the premiums are willing to take the gamble of not having cover at all. Recently, an acquaintance working in the health insurance sector mentioned how a good number of people taking out health insurance, have expressed concerns at how their particular circumstances led them to turn to health insurance to protect themselves and take charge of their healthcare despite the rise in insurance premium tax, which has made policies more expensive.
Insurers have also been innovative as a way of attracting customers by offering no claims discount so that if no claim is made in a year, the policy is moved up a “discount scale”. This can save substantial amounts on annual bills for customers. Furthermore, insurers have also helped trim down the types of cover available so that a policyholder can reduce their premium and therefore have a minimum cover up until the point of diagnosis.
With figures out in the last few days showing the worst monthly performance in the NHS in 13 years, we are more likely to see a continued increase in private health insurance as individuals and companies take measures to safeguard their health and that of their employees respectively.
Category: Funding longer lives, Other
Location: United Kingdom