15 Aug 2022
Health Insurance: Why People are Opting for Private Healthcare
The pandemic put an enormous strain on the NHS, and the backlog of patients waiting for treatments and procedures is huge. Extended waiting times combined with a massive shortfall in doctors, nurses, and other essential healthcare professionals have left our national health service at crisis point driving many to purchase private health insurance.
While many countries around the world have always had private healthcare and health insurance, most Britons have relied solely on the NHS since it came into effect in 1958. However, in recent years, the number of people turning to private healthcare is increasing. “Research by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank found that the long term decline in NHS access and quality had been rapidly accelerated by covid-19, prompting more people to purchase private health insurance or pay for treatment,” says the BMJ.
Health Insurance in the UK
The BMJ continues, “examples of the declining access to NHS care included primary care, with over half of adults polled (54%) saying they found it harder to speak to a GP, whether by phone or in person, compared with before the pandemic, and in mental health, where referrals and waiting times are rising.” Around 13% of adults in the UK (approximately 700,0000) currently have medical insurance meaning they bypass the long NHS wait lists and have a wide choice of treatments that they will receive in a private hospital or clinic. A further 17% said they would go private if they had to wait longer then 18 weeks for planned hospital treatment.
What are people using their health insurance for?
Different health insurance providers offer different kinds of coverage, but typically health insurance covers a range of acute conditions, diagnostics including scans and x-rays, GP appointments, cancer treatments, physiotherapy, and in more recent years, mental healthcare.
Roughly 1 in 4 adults in the UK are battling some form of mental health condition including anxiety and stress, and the World Health Organization recently reported a 25% increase in anxiety and depression worldwide. Insurance companies are recognising the need for good mental health coverage now more than ever, and with mental health conditions on the rise, it’s no surprise that some people are deciding to go private to get the help they need.
What’s happening to the NHS?
Our national health service isn’t in great shape at the moment, and unless big changes happen, things aren’t looking particularly bright for the future. We aren’t training enough doctors and nurses, and a large number of those we do have are choosing to leave their NHS jobs due to stress and burnout and to go to the private sector. The report by IPPR thinktank warns that in the future “getting fast, high-quality care on the NHS could become as difficult as the situation that already exists in regards to state-funded dental treatment, which has become a postcode lottery.” The report continues, “unless the NHS starts performing better, people who can and are willing to do so will supplement their entitlement to NHS care with private healthcare products.”
Seeing our NHS under so much strain is devastating – for years we’ve been able to pride ourselves on the fact that anyone in the UK can receive the healthcare and treatment they need. Sadly, that isn’t the case at the moment and many people are choosing the private route to ensure the continued good physical and mental health of themselves and their families.
Speed Medical delivers a range of services for private medical insurance providers including telephone interviews for PMI quotes, pathology services, health screening services (face to face and virtual). We also provide a broad range of treatments that may be offered as part of policies including physiotherapy, mental health services, diagnostic investigations, and surgical procedures. From diagnosis to recovery, we’ve got you covered. For more information, get in touch with our friendly team today.