Why Are the British Public Foregoing Private Medical Insurance, and What Is the Effect?

According to a nationwide survey held by Pure Cover – an independent insurance information website – out of the 1000 people surveyed, only 5.41% have private medical care. There are arguably 3 possible reasons behind this statistic, and these are as follows:

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  1. A lack of awareness: When it comes to insurance and private healthcare, there are often a lot of misconceptions about your options and who is eligible. For example, out of the 1000 people asked, 36% didn’t know that life and funeral insurance policies are even available for people over 70. This confusion over what’s out there often leads to people not exploring their options.
  2. A lack of trust in private medical providers: According to Pure Cover’s results, over 50% of the people surveyed just don’t trust insurance companies to pay out on claims. This lack of trust understandably puts people off from taking out claims in the first place.
  3. The NHS: The UK’s National Health Service offers free health care to all who need it, so it’s no wonder that so many choose not to pay out for private healthcare.

So, are people right not to trust insurers? Well, statistically no. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), 97.2% of claims on protection insurance policies last year were successful – and that figure is rising each year! For example, statistics published by ABI have shown that the percentage of successful claims for critical illness policies rose from 80% in 2005 to 93% in 2015.

Surveys even show that more Brits distrust insurance providers than banks, despite insurance providers paying out a record £3.6bn last year in protection insurance claims (that’s equal to £10m/day).

But costing an average of £1,435 per year,   and thankfully we have the NHS to fall back on. But, is it enough? With over 60% of those surveyed having never considered taking out any private medical insurance, it seems the UK public think it is. So, what do the stats say?

According to the NHS website, you can expect to wait 18 weeks for non-urgent consultant-led treatments (from the day your appointment is booked or the hospital receives your referral letter). While for more urgent care, such as suspected cancer, the maximum waiting time is reduced to 2 weeks.

However, when it comes to private healthcare, many providers offer fast track appointments, 24/7 GP access, and phone appointments in a matter of hours. Among shorter waiting times, you can also expect a range of other benefits from private healthcare, including:

  • A private hospital room
  • More choice over your treatment options
  • Access to specialist treatment and drugs
  • Easier access to scans and tests
  • Access to specialists that are hard to see through the NHS.

As with any form of insurance, there are restrictions on your private healthcare cover. Under these circumstances, you’ll have to rely on the NHS. For example, you won’t be covered for the following:

  • Any pre-existing conditions that you had before you took out the policy.
  • Any treatment you may require for chronic conditions. Typically, chronic conditions are classed as anything long-term or recurring.
  • Any emergency treatment you receiver at A&E.

Ultimately whether you choose to take out private healthcare or not is up to you, and there’s a reason so many people do rely on the NHS, it’s fantastic. But there’s no excuse for being misinformed; with increased pressure on NHS services and more and more people struggling to save, it’s important you know about your life and healthcare insurance options – the information is out there if you look for it!

With under 50% of the 1000 people surveyed believing that insurance providers can be trusted to pay out, it’s clear there is misinformation circling the internet, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Any insurance provider whose payout rate drops below 90% is legally obligated to publish this information (and many over that figure choose to do so anyway). With the right research, you’re in a great position to decide what insurance you need, if any.

This link is to advice for US residents as it isn’t a UK site. This link may be more applicable to UK residents but less relevant: https://healthtian.com/5-insights-to-make-your-insurance-work-for-you/

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