Private medical insurance inquiries soar as NHS waits grow

Increasing concerns about healthcare access and reliability in the UK leads public to seek private medical insurance

Inquiries for private medical insurance in the UK have increased by 65 per cent this year. Photo: Bupa
Powered by automated translation

There has been a surge of interest in private medical insurance in the UK, with a 65 per cent rise in inquiries since the start of the year, a financial advisory group said.

It comes against a backdrop of mounting pressure on the National Health Service, with waiting lists for treatment reaching record lengths.

This rise in demand was reported by deVere Group, which linked it to a heightened public focus on health care following the global pandemic and continuing geopolitical tensions, leading people to seek alternative solutions to medical problems.

Juan Serey, a private medical insurance adviser with Secure Mortgages and Protection, a partner of deVere Group, said: “The sharp rise in inquiries for private medical insurance underscores the increasing recognition among individuals of the need for reliable and timely healthcare solutions.”

Mr Serey highlighted the alarming extent of NHS waiting lists as a primary driver of frustration, prompting many to look towards the private sector for quicker access to medical services.

Data from the Private Healthcare Information Network (Phin) indicates that private hospitals in Britain set a record last year by treating 820,000 patients – more than in any previous year.

There was also an increase in those personally funding their healthcare needs, with 272,000 people paying for operations or diagnostic procedures in private hospitals, up from 262,000 the previous year and 199,000 in pre-pandemic 2019.

Another 547,000 people received treatment through private medical insurance policies, the highest number since 2019.

In support of this trend, data from Phin indicates that private hospitals in Britain set a record in 2022 by treating 820,000 inpatients and day case patients.

The UK government has even started encouraging patients on NHS waiting lists to book their operations at private hospitals via the health service’s app as part of its strategy to address the extensive backlog in care.

“The current environment, marked by continuing geopolitical tensions and the lingering impact of the global pandemic, has heightened awareness about the fragility of public healthcare systems,” Mr Serey added.

Patients are now looking for comprehensive coverage that extends beyond traditional medical expenses, offering a sense of security in these unpredictable times, the organisation said.

“In the face of global geopolitical tensions, such as conflicts and wars, individuals are increasingly recognising the significance of financial planning and protection,” Mr Serey said.

“Private medical insurance has become a critical component of comprehensive financial strategies, offering individuals the assurance that their health and well-being are safeguarded."

Updated: April 03, 2024, 2:26 PM