and help save the NHS over £1 billion a year
Many people in the UK have private medical insurance, most often provided through company schemes. By using this for private hospital operations and treatment they could be saving the NHS at least £1 billion a year and freeing up NHS beds and resources for those with no cover.
A 2014 survey, The UK Private Health Market, by The King’s Fund, the independent charity which works to improve health and care in England, estimated that around 11% or over 7,000,000 of the UK’s population has some form of private medical insurance. In 2012 the healthcare consultancy, Laing Buisson, estimated that almost £1 billion a year is being wasted by the NHS because hospitals are spending this funding treating the one in three patients with private medical insurance who could be paying for their care through their insurer, as quoted in The Independent.
The study found that patients do not claim on their insurance because they may be afraid it will increase their premium, they may have to pay an excess charge, or their GP may simply omit to ask them if they are insured. Some believe that by not using their insurance they are being loyal and supporting the NHS but in reality they are unnecessarily draining NHS resources. Others feel guilty that they may be queue-jumping whereas every person who uses their insurance and private hospital facilities is freeing up an NHS space and care for someone who doesn’t have insurance cover.
All medical insurance policies differ and cover can be limited. However, if you need a pre-planned procedure and have private medical insurance, tell your GP before referral and make a quick and easy phonecall to your insurer to check if your condition is covered and what level of financial support is provided. You could make a real positive difference to the under-pressure resources of our much-valued National Health Service.